Paranormal & Supernatural in Review: The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Conner, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, and Franka Potente
Written By: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan, and David Leslie Johnson
Directed By: James Wan
Review By: Joshua Macmillan
Synopsis: A single mother and her four children are being attacked by a malicious force that is determined to possess one of her young daughters. After attempting to get help from local authorities, the Catholic church appoints Ed and Lorraine Warren to visit the family and try to figure out exactly what is going on.
If you read my previous review for James Wan’s The Conjuring (2013), you would know that I was grasped by that film. It engaged me on levels that I didn’t think it would at all. After I watched it, I immediately wanted to pop in the disk to The Conjuring 2 (2016) but I held off until after I had written my review for the original.
With sequels, we all come back with certain expectations and one of them is for the bar to be raised. We all know the rules of sequels, everything needs to be bigger and more “in your face!” and what I loved about this film is they did exactly that and more.
Like the first film, The Conjuring 2 takes us right into the story, gripping us and taking us along for its ride whether we want to come or not. The biggest difference between the two films though is the first was more of a build up. With that being said, The Conjuring 2 doesn’t have to take its time to tell us who the Warrens are; instead the film focuses on hooking us with an excellent introductory scene where we see the investigators looking into a very famous paranormal case- Amityville.
In my last review I didn’t talk too much about how the film looked, I wish I did but I am glad to have the opportunity to bring it up here. The cinematography of this film and the original is stunning. There is an atmosphere and a palpable sense of dread from the moment the production logos appear before the film even begins. This- coupled with some amazing music kept me invested and in a minor state of suspense. James Wan takes his abilities up a notch and continues to deliver while giving the initiated and most jaded of horror fans some moments that even we must acknowledge. Wan knows how to craft a scene and scare the living hell out of you while keeping the main narrative and the focus of the story going.
As a writer, the most important part of film to me is the story. The Conjuring 2 is the kind of sequel that doesn’t need to rehash everything from the first film. One of the things that I love about these films, and I mentioned this in the first review, is that there is a major focus on story and building this world that we feel connected to. Sure, this could be because the films are “based on true events” but even if you are a skeptic and don’t believe- the story is amazing. Do you have to see the first one to see this one? Not at all. I mentioned above that The Conjuring 2 doesn’t need to take its time getting to know the Warrens and that’s because currently we all know what a paranormal investigator is. We understand that they are married and care very deeply for each other and we can tell they have been through a lot together as well. That is really all you need to know and you wont miss anything at all.
The wonderful thing about this film is that they have that freedom to move forward with the story. So many times, we have to sit through a rehash of the previous film or get data dumps of key plot points from two films ago so that the general audience won’t be lost. This isn’t the case with The Conjuring 2. They push forward onto a new case for the Warren family to investigate. A new family, a new setting even and the franchise is better for it.
One of the carry-overs from the first film that you will find here are the scares. I mentioned in my review of the first film that Wan knows how to craft and earn a scare. He does it again here but goes further. While we are experiencing the spooky set-up, the jump scare, or whatever way he is going to use to scare us- the narrative is still moving forward. We are invested in what is happening with this little girl and how it is impacting the lives of the Warrens and her own family. This builds its own tension that is just as effective as the well-timed jump scares. All of this is blended in perfectly with the character building of the Warrens themselves. By the end of first Conjuring, we care for them and want to see more of them. The Conjuring 2 builds on that, showing us their deep love for one another and doing so in a subtle way that doesn’t bog down the film and even adds to the tension as we build to a breath-taking climax.
After experiencing both films, I have to say that this is the rare case where the sequel surpasses the original. I highly, highly recommend at least checking out The Conjuring 2 once. Have you seen it? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
My name is Joshua Macmillan, I am an author of horror and dark fiction. My first publication is a short story within the 13:Night Terrors anthology published by Limitless Publishing! I am currently working on my first novel and plan to have as many short stories published as possible while I work on the novel! I look forward to hearing from you guys! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
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