By George Nethercott (UK)
Director James Wan decided to personally put off Fast 8 to go ahead and create this new and intriguing sequel to The Conjuring (2013). Returning to the big screen are Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who travel to England to investigate yet another paranormal case. It is here where they meet Peggy Hodgson (Frances ‘O Connor), a frightened single-mother, who is concerned that something sinister inhabits her home and her children.
Going into this film raised my eyebrows multiple times. I wondered if there could ever be a horror sequel which lives up to its predecessor. It seems the horror genre is waning. A constant cluster of endless sequels and money-grabbing spin-offs. However, The Conjuring 2 (2016) surprised me. In a nutshell, this is a very good horror film with superb performances from the whole cast. James Wan is perhaps the best director, and most trustworthy, working in horror today. He provides a sense of realism and makes us audience member’s care for the characters involved in this terrifying situation. Most horror films fail in this regard. There have been far too many horrors which I have desperately wanted all the cliché and annoying characters to perish from the screen. These characters are real in our eyes and we feel for them. There is also a rather heart-warming feel to the film. It’s unusual but it works. The marriage between Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga is a strong bond and an emotive element in the film. I found myself on multiple occasions rooting for both of them.
Madison Wolfe’s performance as the young Janet Hodgson is outstanding. She effectively demonstrates the horrifying transition of a young girl who plummets into darkness. The same can be said for all the child actors. I genuinely felt the torment they were all experiencing. James Wan uses the camera to his full advantage.
He keeps horror fresh. He conveys the claustrophobic nature of the house by slowly weaving the camera in a number of effective angles. The film has a very clear and purpose-built colour palette. It’s darkly tinted and gloomy and certainly sets the tone for every single scene. The opening shots of the house alone had me curling up awaiting to confront the horrors inside. It’s this artistic direction and dynamic cinematography which is keeping the horror genre alive.
The film is by no means flawless. The runtime alone is just over 2 hours and ten minutes. There were a number of times I found myself wondering when the big, climatic scare sequence was going to happen. It seemed it wouldn’t. There are also moments where the CGI felt too cartoony, especially with the ‘Crooked Man’. It diminished the terror significantly. Nevertheless, where the spirits and entities do appear, they will one way or another have you jumping out of your skin.
Overall James Wan vision is steering the horror genre in a fresh direction. He doesn’t rely on cheap noisy jump scares. Other directors should really take out their notepads because The Conjuring 2 is ultimately a very effective thrill ride from the outset.
Rating: 4/5BEST QUOTES