Review: THE CONJURING 2

posterconjThe second chapter in James Wan’s continuing saga of Ed and Lorraine Warren, THE CONJURING 2, sees the couple in England in the 1970’s at the behest of a priest to rid a family of an unwanted house-guest, such as a ghost of an old man in a chair in the living room for starters. The film opens with the Warrens recalling the familiar events of the murders and haunting in Amityville, with Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) especially drained by the incidents and swearing off taking on any more cases for the time being. It isn’t until Ed (Patrick Wilson) appears as a guest on a local television talk show having to defend the couple’s paranormal work against a skeptic that he insists they get back in the game to prove to themselves and others that they are doing something positive and necessary. But it feels like it’s more a blow to his ego than anything else.

I’ll state right now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first film, and felt it was repetitive, overlong, and I was much more interested in what these events were doing to the family than the haunting itself. Things have not changed with this second film: it’s repetitive, overlong, and again, the family drama that should be the core of the story takes a back seat to the endless sequences of paranormal activity. I never felt like we were ever getting to know these people, and in fact, the Warrens have more dramatic depth than our put upon family, which seems a bit backward to me as we have now two films to get to know them and only one a piece in which to get to know our respective families in need.

Setting the problems I had with the story aside, the film is technically very well made and Wan has a keen eye for talent and he knows how to build scenes. A piece with Lorraine Warren and a painting of a nun may be my favorite sequence in the film, it’s quite terrifying. Joseph Bishara’s impressive score will throw you to the back wall of the theater along with the at times overly aggressive sound effects. Turning to the actors, everyone does solid work, with Farmiga again proving to be the anchor and soul of the demon-hunting duo. However, I wanted more of the British family, the poorer by the day mother Peggy, played wonderfully by Frances O’Connor, who is struggling to keep herself and the kids happy, safe, and sane. One small moment of her giving cookies to her son amidst turmoil at school and home is a great bit of character and gives nice shading to an otherwise shaking, frantic mess of a woman, but understandably so.

I know I’m not going to win over any converts with this review, people who liked the first film will flock to this one and it will again makes buckets of money, as it has every right to.  And I’m certainly in favor of horror movies trouncing the competition at the box office and hopefully one day proving that genre has a rightful place at the table. My only reservation is that producers and the public need to be willing to open their wallets for original work that isn’t sequels and remakes. I say, once around was enough for the Warrens.

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