The Conjuring surprised many when it grossed over $300 million on a $20 million budget. It ensured that a sequel was quickly put in the works (as well as last year’s spin-off, Annabelle), with the filmmakers looking through the cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren for more inspiration. What they came up with was the Enfield Poltergeist, one of Britain’s most documented paranormal cases, which was also the inspiration for Sky TV’s The Enfield Haunting earlier this year.
The film starts out with another very famous case the Warrens were involved in, Amityville, before moving to Britain and the Hodgson family, living in a council house in North London. Single mother Patricia (Frances O’Connor) and her two daughters and two sons, are being increasingly frightened by paranormal activity, which is moving things around the house and possessing one of the daughters.
British paranormal investigators begin to look into what’s happening, but the church won’t help unless they are convinced something really supernatural is happening. They call on Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), who travel to the UK to see whether there’s something genuinely demonic happening, or if it’s the work of the mischievous girls.
At first Lorraine can’t sense any sort of presence in the house, and evidence starts to emerge that the girls may be manufacturing some of the evidence. However, as the weird happenings mount up, Lorraine comes to wonder whether the Enfield case is linked to visions and portents she’s seen before.
There’s not a vast amount to talk about with The Conjuring 2, as in many ways it’s a fairly straightforward haunted house movie. It’s a very good one though, with sustained tension, a lot of good make-you-jump moments and an entertaining plot.
Admittedly, there are a few implausibilities, and I’m not talking about its acceptance that supernatural stuff definitely happened in Enfield, more that the film shows you so much weird things happening it’s vaguely unbelievable that everyone would sit around wondering if it was real or not. However, no one is going to worry about that too much, or the fact that in order to make things scarier and more rounded, it goes well beyond what really happened in the case.
It also follows the lead of the first film and realises that weird stuff happening isn’t as scary of having a personification of evil, and it has a few very effective ones in the form of the ghostly and aggressive Bill Wilkins, the spooky Crooked Man (and you’ll be surprised in the special features, that despite looking like a special effect, the monstrous character is mostly real) and a very unnerving demonic nun (which may be getting its own spin-off).
It helps that the film is once more anchored by great actors like Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who bring a grounded reality to characters that might otherwise seem vaguely preposterous. The film also smartly does a good job of showing the love they have for one another and their need to help, as well as having a fairly strongly Christian core, which is perhaps surprising for a horror movie, and ensures it’s not just about trying to make you jump. That’s particularly important as at well over two-hours long, it would have massively outstayed its welcome without decent characters and a cohesive plot.
It’s absolutely a case of if you liked the first Conjuring, you’ll like this one too. Director James Wan is a bit of a master at this type of movie, having raised the game of studio horror with the likes of Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring movies. He may have gone in a different direction with last year’s Furious 7 and the upcoming Aquaman, but he’s certainly helped show you can still be very creepy without endless buckets of gore.
The Blu-ray looks sharp and also has a pretty good selection of special features. That includes a look at the real case, including interviews with the Hodgson daughters, which is well worth watching.
Overall Verdict: Another fun trip into a haunted house, with director James Wan once more doing a great job of being creepy and telling a story you’ll want to stick with.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac