After the release of James Wan’s The Conjuring in 2013, it was hailed as one of the best modern horror movies and became one of the highest grossing films within the genre of all time. Now, three years later, The Conjuring 2 attempts to carry on the legacy that the first film started. It explores yet another infamous case from the files of real-life paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren.
After the first film ended with a nod to the Warren’s most famous case – Amityville – rumors circulated that this would be the center of The Conjuring 2. However, the sequel merely touches on Amityville in the opening scenes, which includes Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) acting out Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s killing spree in a vision. During this same vision, she has a premonition of Ed’s (Patrick Wilson) death and sees a terrifying Demon Nun (Bonnie Aarons) that follows the Warrens home. The film then moves on to its primary case – Enfield Poltergeist.
Taking place during the late 70s in the London Borough of Enfield, a single mom, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), and her kids find themselves the target of demonic activity. The presence mainly focuses on one of her daughters, Janet (Madison Wolfe), who starts to show signs of possession. Once the story goes public and garners quite a bit of media attention, Ed and Lorraine are asked to visit London and evaluate the situation for the Catholic Church. The couple agrees, even though Lorraine is hesitant after seeing Ed’s death.
While some may have been disappointed with the choice to not focus on Amityville, I was actually grateful. After thirteen films, plus two more in the works, there was absolutely no reason for The Conjuring 2 to have become yet another Amityville film. Instead, we got a fresh take on a case that, despite its popularity at one time, isn’t as well known today. I definitely applaud James Wan for giving these stories a proper retelling. They do stray from documented investigations, but this is still Hollywood, after all.
With all of the success The Conjuring films have had, there is a renewed public interest in Ed and Lorraine Warren. Of course, there are horror fans who believe that they are the real deal, and then those who believe the couple are frauds. The great thing about these films is that it just doesn’t matter what side you fall on. Non-believers can focus on the high production values, great storytelling and relatable characters while believers can get excited that the paranormal duo is getting so much recognition. Actors Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson have such a strong chemistry that they have easily become one of my all-time favorite on-screen couples. Farmiga brings so much warmth while Wilson shows the protective, stubborn and gruff side that Ed was known for. I find myself excited for more films within the Conjuring series just to see these two together again.
As with the first film, there was plenty of fun to be had in The Conjuring 2. The high points include Lorraine coming face-to-face with the Demon Nun in her house, Ed questioning a possessed Janet, and the incredible work of Javier Botet as The Crooked Man. Botet is around 100 pounds, 6 feet, 7 inches tall with elongated limbs and fingers as a result of Marfan syndrome. He is able to bend, twist and move his body in unimaginable ways, making his scenes appeared to be CGI or stop motion. However, the scenes are all him and it is amazing to see him work. The not-so-high points were the overused clichés – crosses turning upside down, jump scares, toys turning on – and the Demon Nun. While the Nun is terrifying and had some fun scenes (making her a high point as well as a low point), she didn’t feel organic to the story at all. It actually felt as if the character was there just to ensure that another spin-off film could be made. When I read that a film for Demon Nun is already in the works, I wasn’t a bit surprised. Fingers crossed it turns out better than their last attempt, Annabelle (2014).
While The Conjuring 2 doesn’t quite reach the first film’s brilliance, it definitely holds its own and isn’t to be missed if you love a good ghost story. Even with its faults, there is so much James Wan did right, yet again. Wan is supposedly in talks for a third film already and I can’t wait to see where he takes us next!