31 Days of Reviews: The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Ed and Lorraine Warren end their voluntary break and encounter one of their most terrifying cases in Enfield, England. As they try to help the burdened family, the entity soon turns its sights on the Warrens as well.

The Conjuring 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed horror film The Conjuring from 2013. Directed by James Wan, returning from the first film, The Conjuring 2 attempts to surpass its predecessor. The scares are different, and the stakes are high for the Warrens, played by returning actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.

As a huge fan of James Wan, I went into this movie with high expectations, and I was not disappointed. Wan has a style, a particular flare, and you can see that through The Conjuring 2. There are atmospheric scares, jump scares, comedic moments, and moments meant to tug at the heartstrings (as forced as some may feel). It’s a good time. I really enjoyed it.

My biggest complaint about The Conjuring 2 would probably have to be those forced emotional moments. There are just times where it feels like the script is trying to beat you over the head with a message, and it’s drilled even deeper with the music that accompanies it. Without the music, it probably would have been passable, but when that dramatic, uplifting music started, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I’m looking at you, ambulance scene.

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Don’t get me wrong. There are a good amount of emotional moments in the film that work really well too. We can thank Vera Farmiga for those. Her portrayal of a conflicted Lorraine Warren in this sequel was so good that I found myself tearing up on multiple occasions. There is one moment in particular where she begs her husband, played by Patrick Wilson, not to leave without her. I felt that sting of oncoming tears almost immediately.

In terms of overall scares, it’s hard to say whether The Conjuring 2 is any better than its predecessor. The Conjuring was a huge phenomenon when it came out in 2013. It was all people could talk about. While the first movie didn’t really bring anything new to the table, it did a really good job of providing a terrifying atmosphere. You can’t forget the scenes with ‘hide and go clap’!

I didn’t feel like The Conjuring 2 had the same feeling. The moment from this sequel that stuck out to me the most would probably be the scene with the crooked man. I was flattened in my seat, kicking my legs frantically at the theater screen. The moment with the crooked man is very similar to the scariest bits of The Babadook. I thought it was pretty great. Other than that I felt like there were a lot more jump scares than purely atmospheric ones. It’s hard to describe because James Wan has a way of making jump scares feel atmospheric, so it doesn’t really come off as a negative aspect. In any case, it’s a thrill ride.

In my previous review of The Conjuring, which you can read here, I mentioned that you could read into several anti-woman sentiments in the subject matter. I noticed that in this film as well, although not as strong. For this film, it comes down to the fact that the family is being run by a newly single mother. They haven’t moved. The house isn’t new. What starts the issue is the negative energy that surrounds the family after the husband leaves for another woman. Without the father figure, they are open to demonic activity. Similar to the first movie, the instance of possession also affects one of the female characters. It doesn’t ultimately detract from the film, but it is a valid critique from a feminist standpoint.

Overall, I would probably have to watch The Conjuring again in order to really compare it to the sequel. I know I really enjoyed The Conjuring 2, and I think the people I dragged to the theater to see it with me enjoyed it as well. It’s got a good blend of jump scares with a hint of atmosphere, some funny bits to break the tension (“It’s so small and light!”), and some really good performances to back it up. I do recommend.


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