Spooky scary time in London.
The Conjuring 2 follows up about six years after the events of The Conjuring. This time, our favorite con artists, Ed and Lorraine Warren find themselves faced with skeptics, frightening prophetic images, and a haunting across the pond. So how does the sequel hold up?
Before I begin, I feel I should bracket this review by saying that I am not inherently opposed to sequels. I know a lot of people are getting sick of sequels, and to a certain extent I can even agree with you on a lot of films. However, each one needs to be judged separately (I think). Horror sequels tend to be problematic on a functional level. How can this be scarier than the first? Wasn’t the first one the worst case the Warrens ever saw? Spectacle creep is a huge problem in sequels and I would wager that horror has to deal with this the most. The Conjuring 2 does a lot of things right, but it is hurt by the burgeoning attempts at scares.
As with the first film, the family in peril is built on the shoulders of strong and believable characters. The little moments of human interaction in this film are top-notch. Quickly developing good characters is a great asset to this team, and I hope that people look to these movies as good examples of how to do so.
Minor spoilage ahead.
We are introduced to the evil nun demon early in the film, and this spirit forecasts Ed’s death to Lorraine. Why this component of the film was added is not entirely clear. Functionally, it is clear that the filmmakers wanted to add more danger to Ed and Lorraine directly. Yet, having what appears to be two separate hauntings divides the audience’s attention, and creates a needlessly complicated narrative.
A simple haunted house was not enough—they had to push the spectacle. This time it is a demon and a ghost. They also have to drag in numerous skeptical characters who say the most dickish things to get the audience against them. I would love to see a horror film with a skeptic who is not a total jackass. The character relations become somewhat manufactured as we have the good folks and the bad ones set so obviously on the board here.
The film might have scarier moments overall, but the last third of the film makes the same mistake that the first one did. We have an overblown conclusion that includes what of the most mind-numbingly long attempts to break down a door. Ed and Lorraine become more akin to superheroes here instead of people trying to help who are forced into the role of savior.
The interactions between the Warrens and the family are top-notch. The film still has a lot to offer, but the cracks of too much interference with the narrative show. I think they wanted to modernize the series as much as they could (granted, it is still set in the 70s), so they add in montages and other intrusive “filmy” moments that break the narrative flow of the more classic structure of the first one.
The Conjuring 2 is a flawed film, but it is still better than most horror films out there. If this was the standard bar for mainstream horror, I would not complain. It is worth a watch, but don’t expect the tightness of narrative from the first one. 6/10