Director: James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
The horror genre today may be the worst it’s ever been; often producing films full of bland, boring, underdeveloped, over-the-top violence, and, worst of all, films which are just not scary in any shape or form. I’ve seen so many modern horror films and they feel like a waste of time and money. Thankfully, James Wan and his movies such as ‘Saw’, and the original ‘The Conjuring’ film, have kept mainstream horror afloat. I was excited for this one because I respect Wan’s ability as a director and I think he gets the best from his cast.
‘The Conjuring 2’ takes all the good about the first and then raises the stakes even higher, really amping up the scares without resorting to cheap gore to shock an audience. This time Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are called to England, to find out whether this young family was pranking the world or actually being haunted by something sinister.
For me, this movie is only further evidence that James Wan has become the new master of horror over the last decade or more. There is next to nothing about this film I didn’t like. I guess we can take some points off because at the end of the day, it copies a couple of things from ‘The Conjuring’ (2013). They borrowed things sure, but it was effective again. Still, if I had to find any flaw. That would be it.
I liked just about everything in this movie. The best part is Wan’s filmmaking style – his use of lighting and shadows, music, sounds, and effective jump scares are near perfection. He provides plenty of creepiness without being excessively violent. You can feel the hair standing on end without cringing in disgust. To me, a good horror unsettles, even scares you, not so much disgusts. This film also understands the value in good characters. If you can make people care about the characters involved, they will often love the movie, even if it has a familiar story, and this one certainly does. Also worth noting is despite being a horror movie, this film has a bit of humour and a nice love story going on. There’s also values of loyalty, trust, family, and love, which are so often forgotten in horror today.
Wan’s casting director needs some credit here too, because the child actors in this movie were all above average. Not least, Madison Wolfe, who played Janet Hodgson. If she sucked, this movie would have failed, but for a child actor at that age, she rocked. In fact, I think the whole cast did a solid job. The leads were again the Warren’s, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. These two work well together and I love that dynamic they have, the different styles of their belief, their strengths and weaknesses.
The scares are effective, and Sen though some can be humorous when you think about them, there are some legitimate scares throughout, too. This film actually reminded me of ‘Halloween’ (1978). Moments where something is out of focus, but gradually becomes clear as it draws in closer; you realise what the danger is and it freaks you out, both in the anticipation and then the execution of the scene.
Please note, if you are a fan of torture porn horror – totally fine if you are, no one is judging – but this is not your film. It is far more ‘Halloween’ than ‘Hostel’. However, if you like a well crafted, beautifully filmed, and soundly acted film, based on true people and events – this is definitely a film for you. I strongly recommend you watch this film if you have a finer appreciation for horror. ‘The Conjuring 2’ is among the best horror films I’ve seen in the last twenty years.