2016 Vera Farminga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
Director James Wan has become somewhat of a household name in the mainstream horror circles. The original film achieved major success and was met with a great reception, The Conjuring name as a brand and franchise has cemented its way into the horror history books. With the less than satisfactory Annabelle spin off failing to wet the audiences appetite for a true sequel, people were relieved when they got to see another glimpse into the life of the Warrens and their paranormal investigations.
This time we travel to London and if you have any interest in the paranormal you will have almost certainly heard of the infamous Enfield haunting. Depending on what you believe, this 'based on a true story' premise is pushed to the forefront. Despite having a paranormal theme this constant reminder keeps the film grounded in an often frightening reality.
The sequel, like it's predecessor has scares in abundance and very rarely breaks away from it's extremely tense vibe. The scares themselves come in many forms, yes there is still Wan's stylised quiet quiet BANG moments but he also throws in some very clever false flags and other surprises to keep viewers on their toes. There are no shortage of creepy characters here, demon nuns, possessed children and even a nightmarish version of famous nursery rhyme character The Crooked Man. Make up effects are high quality and the camera work is top notch, the film is let down slightly by its CGI elements however. there is a more frequent use of these techniques here and occasionally they were noticeable enough to break immersion and lessen a few of the scares.
What was particularly clever was how well Wan conveys a sense of helplessness, the 5 members of the Hodgson family go through a horrific ordeal and you almost feel part of it. They are characters that you care about and honest working class individuals. The fact that the supernatural entity attached itself to the youngest girl out of the siblings made the ordeal even more chilling. She is often controlled and tormented by the spirit while all her family can do is look on in terror. Young actress Madison Wolfe gives a great performance that even horror icon Linda Blair would approve of. The Hodgson family are the unlikely stars of this sequel and often over shadow the Warrens for the first 3rd of the film, this change of focus sets the story's climax up nicely when the whole family plus the Warrens join forces for the film's closing set piece.
We see the ghost hunting duo fleshed out quite a bit more here, they are seen attending talk shows and we see the difficulties that come attached to their new found fame. Lorraine appears more vulnerable this time around and the effects of all the paranormal things they have both seen are apparent. This resilience is tested as the Enfield spirit becomes increasingly aggressive. I really like how the human elemnt is explored more here, both Wilson and Farminga do a fine job of making thier characters seem like sincere and genuine people despite their bizarre occupation.
James Wan's second instalment of The Conjuring franchise is a everything horror sequel should be. It is frightening, more ambitious and very character driven, the balance between shocks and solid story telling applies a polish that many other mainstream horrors lack. The runtime may appear a little long to some but Wan's signature style and barrage of scares will have you trembling till the last minute.