The Conjuring 2 is not a truly frightening film. That is to say it’s not unsettling or disturbing in any way. It’s startling. You’ll jump when you’re meant to jump and that’s the point. It may claim to be based on true life but the movie wears its funfair ghost house aspirations on its sleeve. Fog moves slowly over a swing set. A creepy nun stares silently from an objectively terrifying portrait and ghouls cackle as they torment an English family.
The Warrens (played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson), a husband and wife ghost-busting team, return to the spectre fighting game after swearing they wouldn’t. Their story here is a well worn ‘one last job’ type deal. Coaxed out of retirement by the story of a London family with a ghost problem, they’re tasked with seeing if this is the real thing or just a single Mum trying to get a better council house. You can guess what happens. This isn’t a story to embrace scepticism.
Director James Wan returns to the helm after a successful breakout from the horror ghetto with Fast and Furious 7. He’s an extremely gifted stylist who adds gloss wherever possible and takes advantage of the huge (by horror standards) budget. His instinct to go big and broad may grate for some. We’re shown that this story takes place in late seventies London via a montage that features the queen, Thatcher and Big Ben to the sounds of London Calling, for example. I’d advise you move past that. His knack for building up and releasing tension is the greatest asset that a movie like this has. This guy really is the king of the jump scare.
The biggest problem is that, direction aside, the script sags horribly at times. It’s almost an hour before the Warrens inevitably get their passports stamped. There is no reason for this to be over two hours long and the mid section, in particular, feels tedious between scares.
Even if overlong this is still a fun, spooky ride that’s more than fit for purpose. Any boredom is instantly forgotten once the next inventive set piece begins. In this sense it’s a wonderful one watch movie. Afterwards you’ll forget the plot but while it’s on screen Wan is able, magician like, to direct your eye where he wants, away from any nonsensical element. For those not inclined to nit pick this is fantastic, moment to moment film making drenched in OTT gothic creepiness. Watch it, shriek and walk away.
The Conjuring 2 is in cinemas now. Check out the trailer below.
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