Released in 2013, James Wan’s The Conjuring is quite easily one of the most genuinely unnerving horror films of the last decade. A hit amongst audiences and critics alike, now comes its inevitable sequel; one which not only manages to match the first in terms of quality, but often surpasses it.
We catch up with paranormal investigators, Lorraine and Ed Warren, not long after the events of the first film. They are investigating the legendary Amytiville, a place which Lorraine describes as “the closest to hell” she ever wants to get. There, the medium encounters the figure of a demonic nun and has a vision of what could be the future death of her husband.
A sign of things to come, perhaps, but the opening in Amytivile serves more as a point of reference for US audiences. Regarded as one of the worst and most documented hauntings in America, it acts as a link to the film’s bigger story that revolves around a similar case in the UK – the Enfield haunting.
Having stirred up a media frenzy during the late 1970s, James Wan and his writing team have chosen an interesting case to focus on, particularly due to the ongoing debate as to the validity of the claims. Centred around the Hodgson family, the Warrens are called in to help when the angry spirit of a former occupant begins to torment the young daughter, Janet.
Combining fact – the filmmakers are quite clearly keen to put across the Warrens real life involvement in these stories, as proven by the film’s end credits – and a healthy dose of necessary, ghostly embellishment – the film’s final act is gloriously silly – The Conjuring 2 is as incredibly entertaining as it is utterly terrifying.
The very definition of a crowd-pleaser, it’s the type of film that needs to be seen with as big an audience as possible; the screams of terror and subsequent laughter only adding to the fun of the experience.
James Wan, the film’s director and producer of what seems like almost every single horror film released today, directs with confidence and toys with our expectations from a film of this kind; expectations he has pretty much created over the last ten-years.
He seems to understand that for a horror film to work, it needs more than loud noises and lazy scares. And, whilst the film does feature such moments, Wan succeeds in creating an oppressive atmosphere of dread, using light and shadow, as well as stop-motion animation, to turn a council house in Enfield into hell on earth – at times, it feels like Wan is paying homage to the visual stylings from Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook.
Led by the very likeable pairing of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, The Conjuring 2 pulls out all the stops in creating a worthy sequel. With a UK setting, the film is different enough to feel original whilst maintaining all the elements of the first film that made it so successful.
It’s a legitimately scary and satisfying summer movie, which, compared to a lot of other horror films being released today, is a glowing example of how it should be done. So much so, I would happily go on more spooky adventures with the Warrens, no matter how completely petrified I may be at the prospect.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com