My expectations of sequels are usually lower than their originals, especially in the horror genre. When I first watched The Conjuring two years ago I was surprised how well crafted and effectively scary the film was. Since then the sinister ideas and dark images have crept into my mind at night more often than most other horror movies. I finally got the courage to watch its sequel, The Conjuring 2, thinking I would easily laugh it off as I do most horror sequels. Instead I got a fresh new batch of nightmare fuel.
The Conjuring 2 expands on Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren’s (Patrick Wilson) dealings with the supernatural. The opening scene depicts some of their involvement investigating the infamous Amityville haunting (any horror fan will recognize those windows). Here and at home, the Warrens get visions of a ghastly nun and dark premonitions. Then, they are called to investigate a haunting in England.
The Hodgson’s on Green street in London are a family trying to move on from a messy divorce. Peggy (Frances O’Connor), her two boys and two girls live in an old house, furnished by the previous owners. Strange happenings revolving around the younger girl, 11 year old Janet (Madison Wolfe), begin to shake the family. Was it the homemade ouija board she’s been playing with? Her older sister finds her sitting up at night, talking to the darkness. Janet thinks she’s sleepwalking. It all seems like childsplay until their mother witnesses a strange, violent and unexplainable occurrence right in the girl’s bedroom. It’s a great, startling scene! When the police are involved, they witness objects move in ways they cannot believe. The media gets involved and records an interview with the girls, where Janet seems to be possessed and speaking for a long dead owner of the house.
When Ed and Lorraine arrive in England to help the Hodgson family, things turn serious. Details, crazy shit. Ed gives the children a pep talk to stand up to the bad spirit together. Lorraine confides in Janet about their supernatural experiences. But some of the investigators think Janet is faking all of it and any proof of that could quickly discredit the Warrens. But how will the family fare without them around to protect them?
Something I really admire about this film, and its predecessor, is that their overall look is genuinely scary. The inside of the Hodgson’s house looks haunted. The walls are dingy. The boys little tent is dark and foreboding. Their basement is a dangerous mess. And that corner with the armchair looks absolutely rotten, like these sinister supernatural things have been eating away at the house for years. And then there are the physical manifestations of the things that haunt the family and they’re not easy images to shake from your mind in the dark.
Throughout the film the cynic in me wanted more explanation about the creepy nun. She seemed out of place in the beginning, and knowing about there’s a film in this series called The Nun, I originally dismissed it as a long con advert. Don’t be as cynical as me, it all connects and pays off in the spectacularly suspenseful end. And I was close to picking up those clues to the demon’s name, that alone makes me want to rewatch the film.
Overall, The Conjuring 2 is a good and scary horror movie, but only nearly as frightening as its predecessor. Still, images of that demon nun seem to lurk in the shadows and possessed voices still ring in my ears. Good supernatural sequels are hard to come by, so The Conjuring 2 is a welcome addition here in my October Haunts. And James Wan proves himself as more than a one hit wonder for scary stories. And overall, The Conjuring saga/Warren files are proving to be a very interesting and entertaining slice of the horror genre. I want to check out more. Perhaps The Nun next. Maybe Annabelle, if I’m brave enough.
“After everything we’ve seen, there isn’t much that rattles either of us anymore. But this one… this one still haunts me.”