Monday, October 3, 2016

Film Review: The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Conjuring 2 (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review

"I only had a few issues with the ending, but it's otherwise a must-watch film for horror fans."

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) travel to England to assist the Hodgson family – a family tormented by a malevolent spirit...
First of all, The Conjuring 2 begins with the Amityville haunting, which I've always loved in film. I know, I know, it's inspired by a real tragedy, but it's still something that has always fascinated me. So, this film started off very strong. It continues with the same formula – more or less – as the previous film. We see the Hodgson family as they suffer from a haunting that quickly grows more and more dangerous. The haunting centers around Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe), a young girl who sees and hears a wicked spirit in their house. Eventually, the entire family begins to see the haunting. Meanwhile, Ed and Lorraine wrestle with their careers after Lorraine has a vision of death. I thought it balanced the characters very well, creating a very smooth pace. In terms of plot, I only really had a minor issue with the ending. It felt a bit underwhelming compared to the rest of the film; it also felt riddled with odd exposition.

The Conjuring 2 is a great film, though. In fact, I'd say it's a fantastic horror film. It reminded me of films like The Exorcist since it had a strong focus on developing its characters and crafting its atmosphere. So, it sort of feels like a drama-horror, but in a good way – the drama amplifies the horror and vice versa. This isn't a jump-scare gallery, either. It's damn-near the perfect blend of horror. It has a dark and ominous atmosphere from beginning to end. The suspense is masterful, keeping you anxious and frightened throughout most of the runtime. There are some very blatant horror visuals, then there are some subtle visuals – both of which work well in conjuring plenty of goosebumps. And, of course, there are some jolting jump-scares. Fortunately, like James Wan's previous efforts, the jump-scares are accompanied by plenty of suspense and they are creative, so they're actually effective.

The acting was also great. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga perform very well as the Warrens. Madison Wolfe was also very impressive. The supporting cast was strong, too. I have no complaints in terms of acting. The cinematography was great and the music was ominous. The film was written by Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan, and David Leslie Johnson; Wan also directs. I know, I know, I usually poke fun at films with four writers or more. However, it did feel like this team worked well together to create something authentic. James Wan, as usual, is a master of suspense. Each scene is meticulously crafted to generate dread in one way or another. I'm also a big fan of the camerawork in his films.

Overall, The Conjuring 2 is a fantastic horror movie. One of my favorites of 2016, in fact. (Note: I haven't watched Don't Breathe or The Witch yet.) In an industry filled with stale series, I think its great to see a superb sequel, too. I only had a few issues with the ending, but it's otherwise a must-watch film for horror fans. Don't miss it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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