Come on, ghosts! Let’s try and play nice now, ya hear!
With all of the hype and infamy surrounding the Amityville horrors, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) have become something of overnight celebrities. Everyone wants to know more about them, but they also want to question them more and figure out if everything that they say, or do with ghosts is actually real, or all just a put-on. For this reason alone, Ed and Lorraine decide to take something of a sabbatical from the paranormal-busting world and just focus on getting back to reality, where they can continue to raise their family in a carefree, quiet environment. However, when they hear about a family being terrorized somewhere in England, the Warrens can’t help but feel inspired for one more battle against the dead. This time, though, they may have met their match. And with Lorraine losing her touch with reality and starting to battle more and more with the dead and dark spirits that have been haunting since she started seeing them, it’s all coming to head and this may be the most dangerous mission they’ve had to work with yet.
The first Conjuring, if anything, was a fun horror movie. While a lot of people shrieked, screamed, hooted and hollered during it, the movie, at least from my point-of-view, wasn’t all that scary; sure, it had some jumps here and there, but it seemed like the movie was less about the jumps and more about the tension, the suspense and the thrill of waiting to be scared and actually having it happen. James Wan is a smart director in that he doesn’t just throw everything at us, altogether and at once – he takes time to build his pieces, so that we get a clear picture of what we’re heading into, only to then pull the rug from underneath us and have us not knowing just what the hell to expect next.
That’s why, underneath it all, the first Conjuring was a fun movie. It wasn’t great and it, for me at least, wasn’t this terrifying experience that made me go home scared of turning the lights off when I went to bed. It was a normal horror movie in that it had a simple premise, a simple ghost, and simple characters, without trying to go any further on any of that; it had a ghost who needed to be taken out of a house and well, that’s exactly what happened.
But the only reason why I bring so much of this up is because the Conjuring 2 is a step-up from the original and shows that James Wan isn’t just trying to make the same movie, over and over again.
Sure, he has the scares, the jumps, the spooks, and the ghosts on full-display here, but once again, there’s more to it than just that. In making it seem like the almost indestructible Warrens are up against the grain here, Wan has made sure that this ghost is as evil and maniacal as you can get. In fact, I’d say that the first hour of the movie is dedicated solely to this family getting slowly tormented by this spirit who, for lack of a better word, just wants people out of “his house”. Why? Well, the movie goes into a little bit of that, too, but it doesn’t always matter, because the scares are there and we know that when the Warrens come around, everything’s going to be all fine and dandy, right?
Well, no. Not really.
Wan makes the Conjuring 2 out to be a do-or-die experience where anything could go wrong, at any second, and the unpredictable nature of the spirit takes over the story and has us hoping for the best, but also expecting the worst. After all, it’s a horror movie, so obviously, bad stuff has to happen to good people, regardless of whether we want it to, or not. Wan knows this, which is why he actually allows for there to be character-development with all of the characters, not just the Warren’s.
Because the family getting terrorized by this spirit is, after all, a middle-to-low class family just getting by, with a husband who is out and about, living a different life with a neighbor, a daughter who sees things in her sleep, and a boy who has a stuttering problem, we really sympathize with them. We aren’t doing it because, oh yeah, ghosts suck and all of that, but because do they really deserve this? Obviously, no family in their right mind deserves it, but Wan really does make us ache for these characters and it’s why we really want to see the Warrens show up and, essentially, save the day.
But once again, Wan is a smart enough director to know that not everything can be so simple and laid-out, even in a horror movie like this. Surprisingly, there’s more to the relationship between Ed and Lorraine than the first movie ever touched on and through this second installment, Wan shows us that they really are each other’s world and without the other, they’d be nothing in this life, or the next. It’s actually kind of sweet and makes these two characters appear less as just “religious ghostbusters”, and more as a married-couple who want to help those around them, while also trying to make sure that they still come home to one another, alive, well, and happy to go on another day on solid ground.
And really, that’s why the Conjuring 2 is better than the first.
Wan seems like he’s more interested in going darker and deeper into this story than ever before and not just leaving everything on the surface-level. The movie does run a tad too long, however, a lot of the reason why it’s over two hours, is because there is more time dedicated to character-development, as well as more opportunities for Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga to work with material that is, fine at best, but still gives them something to do, rather than just yell at goofy-looking spirits.
In fact, yeah, let’s try and work on those spirits next time, okay VFX team?
Consensus: By adding an extra level of depth and emotion to the proceedings, the Conjuring 2 packs more of an emotional wallop to go along with all of the effective jumps and scares.
8 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire