James Wan has become somewhat the master of modern horror, and The Conjuring 2 shows his reign isn’t coming to an end any time soon.
The film picks up with paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) but this time detailing their work on the Enfield Haunting case. This was a real life case involved the haunting of the Hodgson family in North London, where the young daughter of the family has seemingly become possessed.
Wan has become reliable as a filmmaker who uses both jump-scares and atmosphere to craft a lingering and scary experience and uses both to great effect here. Suspense is used effectively (and not overused) to help build a dark, creepy tone. There are also moments to wind down after climactic scares, allowing for tonal variation, even allowing a elements of romance (between the Warrens) to seep in and help further develop their characters. This works well to keep you engrossed and prevents the film overly falling into the ridiculous. However, at this point in Wan’s career (especially in a sequel), certain sequences follow a pattern that has become predictable, which, although tried-and-tested, lessens the impact of the resulting scare.
The acting is solid, something key in a horror movie to prevent it becoming comical. Wilson and Farmiga remain strong as the Warrens, developing their characters and relationship more in this film to prevent it feeling like a retread and instead instilling it as the continuation that it is. Frances O’Connor, amongst the rest of the cast, is also strong as the mother, but the stand-out is Madison Wolfe as the young Janet at the centre of the haunting who sells the events well.
The directing and cinematography is also interesting, breaking in new ideas not often present in horror films. However, shots with empty backgrounds (where of course something is going to appear) are also used frequently, again making it a little predictable. However, these do still work effectively to help build the atmosphere.
Despite all of this, as you can say for most horror movies, if you’re in the right frame of mind, the film is not immune to having scary moments that are susceptible to being viewed as more comedic. So, if you are trying not to get scared, you can still have a fun time with the film. Similarly, the film does not end on a dark or scary note meaning that you leave the cinema less scared than you were whilst watching the film (which will probably make the film less likely to keep you up at night – a pro or a con, depending on what you’re looking for in a horror film).
Overall, The Conjuring 2 (I do wish it had a more inventive title) is another great entry into Wan’s horror catalogue, providing a great deal of scares that make it a worthy sequel to the original.