Although the The Conjuring 2 falls short in some technical aspects, there can be no doubt that this film is truly terrifying
The first Conjuring was arguably one of the best horror films ever made. It included all of the vital ingredients: the scare factor, talented actors, and a clever narrative. It is rare to find a horror film which can scare but does not sacrifice a good storyline for the sake of cheesy horror.
With much to live up to after The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 was undoubtedly as terrifying as the first, but fell short in some technical and creative aspects. Directed by horror veteran James Wan (Saw, Insidious), The Conjuring 2 revisits paranormal investigators Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson), as they travel to England to investigate poltergeist activity in an Enfield council house in 1977. Single mother Peggy Hodgeson (Frances O’Connor) is desperate for help, as her youngest daughter, Janet (Madison Wolfe) appears to be possessed by a demonic spirit.
The film’s premise is enticing from the onset, even more so as it is based on the true story of The Enfield Haunting- “England’s Amityville”. However, the British setting meant there was more to live up to for British audiences. American born Madison Wolfe delivered a convincing British accent, but the cockney edge was not quite there. Even British actress Frances O’Connor seemed to deliver a performance that was a caricature of British cockneys. Despite the “bloody hell’s”, dropped h’s and cockney boisterousness, for a British audience this was laughable when compared to a genuine cockney accent. In the same way, London was introduced in a ridiculously overused montage sequence to The Clash’s, ‘London Calling’. The British setting was clearly aimed at American audiences, and although this did not massively lessen the film’s merits, from a British perspective it was difficult to ignore.
However, technical aspects of the film made up for its other shortcomings. The film’s cinematography was impressive and hugely important in adding to the dread and fear experienced when watching. As demonstrated by Alfred Hitchcock, the legendary ‘Master of Suspense’, clever cinematography is vital in creating fear. Quick zooms and long shots of empty corridors for example, were truly terrifying to the point where it was almost impossible to watch for fear of what was lurking. The unknown is far more terrifying than what we can see, and in the initial stages of the film when we see almost nothing, these are certainly the scariest parts. In the same way, The Conjuring 2 cleverly contrasted silence with sudden noise to create the jumpy effect which terrifies audiences. The variety of sound which ranged from loud thuds to children’s nursery rhymes was a creepy yet clever aspect of the film which played on stereotypical fears and nightmares.
However, the film’s real success was in leads Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, who brought the same chemistry and likeability to their characters as they demonstrated in the first film. Having two talented actors (Vera Farmiga is Oscar nominated and Patrick Wilson Golden Globe nominated) really does add to the film’s credibility. This is what makes The Conjuring films stand out, as they don’t rely on scare-factor alone; choosing instead to incorporate a gripping plot to go with it, brought to life by talented actors.
Nevertheless, what prevents The Conjuring 2 from being as successful as the first film, are the small moments which appears to be lazy film-making. For example, short, completely irrelevant scenes, just to force some humour in were odd and incongruous with the rest of the film. There were also a number of unnecessary shots which stood out in a film that was (mostly) edited so precisely in order to ensure a frightened response from the audience.
The Conjuring 2 was a thoroughly scary and mostly enjoyable film, however several small aspects in film form and performance lessened its overall quality.
The Conjuring 2, directed by James Wan, is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, Certificate 15.