Since 2004 James Wan has single-handedly redefined the Horror genre as we know it. With a filmography with such greats as Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring, it’s not really difficult to see how far Wan has come over the course of these past 12 years.
Typically when it comes to horror movie sequels, the stories arelazy, the characters are silhouettes of their former counterparts and the stakes are non-existent. This isn’t the case when it comes to a James Wan sequel however. A James Wan sequel manages to effortlessly continue where the previous movie left off without having to compromise any necessary character development. If this follow-up was to be a success during this confrontation both the Director and Actors involved in the story’s production needed to ensure that no stone be left unturned, and that their effort and commitment to the source material bears true testimony and respect for all those involved.
Round 1 – Plot
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return 7 years after the events of The Conjuring to provide much needed help to a family at the end of their limits after a series of life altering paranormal events. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage “If it’s not broke don’t fix it”, well that’s exactly what Wan and his team of screenwriters must have been saying when deciding what this story progression needed. That being said, The Conjuring 2 manages to recycle the same elements of its predecessor without ever seeming like it was so. In turn, it manages to highlight the excellent standards set by the original without the need to be overly creative.
When adapting a story based on True Events there will always be questions raised as to the legitimacy of the scenes show on screen. Mostly audiences will query whether what they are seeing truly did happen, or whether a number of liberties have been taken when deciding what will make a story worth telling to the masses. Both Wilson and Farmiga, however, use their obvious abilities to further stabilise this story through their believability as the real-life couple Ed and Lorraine Warren, enabling a seemingly faultless progression from the events 7 years ago, to those of the Movie’s present day.
From being stalked through the hallways of their family home, to wading through flooded basements in soggy London, The Conjuring 2 maintains it’s ability to bring both fear and excitement to a scene that would, in hands other than James Wan’s, fell flat and otherwise uninteresting to the viewing audience
ROUND 1 SCORE: 7/10
Round 2 – Characters
As previously mentioned, the brilliant abilities of both Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson cannot be understated when discussing the credibility of the characters within this Movie. However it is worth mentioning that the actors playing the helpless Hodgson family children do so with a sense of genuine fear and amazement used with intricate precision. Without these integral characters, it is likely this latest horror adventure would lack the necessary fear required to truly classify as a genuinely pulse-raising narrative.
With the lack of gimmick, beautiful wardrobe design and brilliant dialogue, the characters of The Conjuring 2 were not created like many to merely act as a voice to scream helplessly down at the screen as the chaos ensued around them. Instead, it is the audience’s connection to the people on screen that creates the effective scares. No pointless jump scares, only the necessary levels of dread and suspense needed to raise a few hands over eyes at the vital moments.
ROUND 2 SCORE: 8/10
Round 3 – Overall Enjoyment
As with most horror films, my levels of enjoyment differ depending on the quality of scares on display. Personally I have always been a fan of practical psychological scares – see the original Poltergeist’s chair stacking trick if you need to know more – it is this ability to direct the viewer in one direction, while something entirely different is occurring off it. On at least 2 occasions this occurs, leaving me sat chomping at the bit for more of the same. As well as this I am thoroughly enjoyed the proper use of a scare mechanic. Any film can show a demon with scary eyes supported with a loud shriek of music to force the audience into throwing their popcorn in the air. But realistically how long will that scare last? I much prefer those horror moments that stick in your mind long after the scene has ended. No cheap tactics, just the ability to engage the viewer in to genuinely dreading what may happen next.
In terms of Overall Enjoyment I must admit I felt as though the runtime may have dragged about 25/30 minutes than it necessarily needed, and that on a couple of occasions I found the actions of the characters questionable when a much easier solution could have been found. But that is just me being over precise in what I do and don’t like.
ROUND 3 SCORE – 7/10
FINAL SCORE – THE CONJURING 2 WINS 22/30
Overall The Conjuring 2 is a great film to watch if you want to spend your night hiding your eyes behind the closest pillow or blanket until the scene has ended. The scares are genuine, the characters develop in just enough of a way that it doesn’t seem forced, and a story that is although weighed down at times, efficient and cohesive enough to sit let you back and certainly not relax as it runs its course
Do you agree with this decision? How would you score each round? Get involved on the conversation using #MovieReferee on either Facebook or Twitter.