016 seems to be the year of the sequels. In the first half of the year we’ve had “Zoolander 2,” “Captain America,” “Batman V Superman,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” and just this week we’ve had “Now You See Me 2.”
Aside from “Now You See Me 2,” also being released this week is the highly anticipated sequel to the 2013 smash horror hit “The Conjuring.” While most of this year’s sequels have fallen rather flat, “The Conjuring 2” manages to stand up to, if not surpass, the first film as returning director James Wan brings us not just a good, but a genuinely scary horror movie that’ll have audiences everywhere making sure they say their nightly prayers before they go to sleep.
The year is 1977 and Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), a single mother living in London with her four children, is horrified to discover that her house is being haunted by a ghostly presence. More specifically, her youngest daughter, Janet (Newcomer Madison Wolfe delivering an exceptional screen debut), is starting to show signs of demonic possession. Scared for her and her children’s life, she calls upon the Catholic church who once again sends Ed and Lorraine Warren (returning stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to investigate the case and see if they can offer the family any help. As soon as they arrive though, the Warrens find themselves once again the target of something beyond their darkest nightmares and find their lives at a risk in a way they’ve never been before. As I just stated, “The Conjuring 2” is an exceptionally good sequel and an even greater horror movie and once again we have Wan to thank for that.
Wan really has come a long way since his film debut back in 2004 with “Saw.” Since then, he’s gone on to release films such as the “Insidious” series, “Dead Silence,” and now “The Conjuring” series. Each of his films have been better than the one before and with each film he makes, we can see he knows how to tell a good horror story. What made this film so scary was the way he chose to film it. With every angle, every darkened corner, I found myself gripping my seat as tightly as possible and I could feel my heart pumping inside my chest. There was even a moment where, for the first time in a very long time, I covered my ears because I was too afraid to allow myself to listen to what was about to happen.
In a way, you could say that “The Conjuring 2” is a beautiful piece of cinema and there were certain moments where I found myself gasping not because I was scared, but because I was blown away by the way the camera moved and positioned itself. A lot of horror movies these days rely on the use of excessive jump scares, which this film has, but here, there are strategically placed and effective. The real horror in this film comes from the sense of dread you feel while watching it. Wan does a fantastic job in building up the suspense and drawing it out as long as he possibly can and the moment everything goes silent, you feel your heart stop and realize that you are no longer breathing. There is one particular scene involving Lorraine and a painting that was absolutely dreadful and was welcomed by a shrill of screams from the theater I was in. Mr. Wan, if by some miracle you ever read this, I would like to say to you, job well done and congratulations on creating what I think will be forever known as your masterpiece.
When I wasn’t being amazed by Wan’s exceptional directing I was busy being blown away by the performances I was watching on screen. Farmiga and Wilson’s chemistry is stronger than ever and just like the last film, their characters relationship really is the heart of this film. O’Connor plays the role of a distraught mother amazingly well but to me, the real star of this movie was Wolfe. For only being 13 years old, she certainly holds her own against the adult actors and definitely manages to upstage them in certain moments. Her storyline revolves around her character getting possessed and there are numerous moments in which we see her being possessed and she acts those scenes incredibly well. When doing a role like this, it’s easy to overact or even underact the role but she somehow manages to find her footing and deliver a truly terrifying performance. Not a lot of adults can play a role such as this very easily but she handles it with such ease and talent that you almost forget you’re watching someone act. I predict many good things for her career and I imagine her talent will only improve as she gets older.
I haven’t said anything negative about this film but that’s because I have nothing bad to say about it. Sure, it has a few glitches here and there but overall, it is extremely well made film with acting almost too good for a horror movie. It’s scary and also touching. One moment it has you jumping out of your seat and next you feel yourself being moved by the emotion you’re seeing on screen.
I can’t wait to see what Wan will do next and I can already tell you whatever it is, I’ll definitely be first in line to see it. The bottom line, “The Conjuring 2” is a terrific sequel that guarantees you a screaming good time at the movies and will have you sleeping with the lights on for the next few days. Don’t go see this movie alone or better yet…do.