Review: The Conjuring 2 Is A Masterfully Crafted Emotional Ghost Story

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James Wan returns with a more experienced sequel to his 2013 blockbuster summer hit, The Conjuring

James Wan continues to prove he’s our generation’s John Carpenter and just like Carpenter, Wan knows how to make today’s generation feel uneasy and terrified.  Continuing like an anthology, The Conjuring 2 follows Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) as they investigate a haunting in Endfield, London.

Wan’s craftsmanship is really front and center in this movie. Most, if not all the film, relies on his particular craft and it never disappoints. The building of each scene has a lingering sense of dread and builds up to a scary climatic end. However, it could be easy to lose this sense of uneasiness, but Wan never lets that happen. While the audience knows that a scare and a loud bang is coming, the most important part is the viewer never knows when it’s coming. Playing off Hitchcock’s famous bomb quote, Wan takes it and runs with it getting inspired with this very quote while building each scene, each being scarier than the last.

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Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Francis O’Connor and Simon McBurney

The Conjuring 2 doesn’t try to reinvent the genre and it doesn’t have to. Just like the first Conjuring, everything has been done before, but James Wan does it better. Using practical effects and real actors as ghosts and demons make for more disturbing imagery. These are the images the audience will go home to see besides their bed-side tables. Other horror directors should take note, sometimes simplicity goes a long way.

Having great actors that help sell a movie like The Conjuring 2 can be a real challenge. The movie does go over the top at some moments yet, it never feels like it goes overboard and that’s because the actors give realistic portrayals of real characters. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson both deliver great performances as the paranormal couple. A lot of scenes depend on their acting abilities and they never once dissatisfy. They keep the movie grounded with powerful chemistry between each other and a surprisingly effective love story. Again, this story arc could’ve felt too cliché, they don’t shove it down the viewers’ throats which is the very reason it works so well.

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source: Warner Bros. Pictures

While the third act was satisfying thanks to the movie’s ability to make its audience care about Farmiga and Wilson’s character, the climax does feel like a poor decision. It feels no doubt like a real possibility, but it just doesn’t transfer well on the big screen. It does, nevertheless, keep the credibility of the film’s ‘base on a true story’ gimmick after some questionable ‘Hollywood moments’. It’s also worth noting that parts of the third act do feel earned while others feel forced.

The Conjuring 2 is a well crafted, beautifully shot and effectively terrifying sequel that does outshine its processor in more ways than none. It’s not just a story about ghosts, but a story about faith and marriage coming together to fight evil. The premise of the story may not be real but the characters have real emotions and real motives. Even though skeptics may not buy into the whole story, The Conjuring 2 still offers some genuine characters moments and some truly skillfully made scares.

GRADE: A

The Conjuring 2 is released on June 10.

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9 comments

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  1. emmakwall

    I must admit I kind of skim-read this as I hate knowing anything about a film before I see it but I did enjoy what I did read A LOT!

    And I love your positive attitude about the film and James Wan. I’ve got a lot of time for James Wan and Leigh Whannell as well (his friend and often his collaborator). People who love their horror movies often find it hard to trust or love new franchises and directors, but with these guys, we’ve got something good going on 🙂

    Even their regular music/score guy Joseph Bishara – he creates some wonderfully terrifying horror film music, they’re a great team!

    • Zachary Doiron

      James Wan is a really good director and an even more amazing horror director. Even Leigh Whannell’s Insidious Chapter 3 was so good, a cut above your typical horror sequel. Oh, and yes Bishara does an amazing score in this movie as well. He’s so talented!

      • emmakwall

        They’re a cool team and it’s nice to have ‘new’ people to follow and enjoy. I know it sounds so trivial but their horror films generally even have good scripts, with genuine humour too.

        Leigh Whannell wrote all three of the Insidious film scripts as well as Saw (and SOME of its subsequent sequels).

        Credit to Wan for direction but credit too to Whannell for writing the screenplay! I like it when people work in teams or duos, it gives them a ‘mark’.

        I like Adam Wingard as well, as far as modern horror/thriller movies. Do you like his stuff? Sorry for long comments 🙂

      • Zachary Doiron

        I do love Adam Wingard. I found You’re Next and The Guest to be truly magnificient horror movies. He’s in talks to direct the new Halloween movie. If he does get it I wouldn’t be complaining

      • emmakwall

        The Guest is honestly one of the best films I’ve seen in the last five years, it is SO GOOD!!! I liked You’re Next as well but didn’t think it was quite as special. The Guest has such an incredible soundtrack.

        Another Halloween remake lol! His spin on things would be interesting though 🙂

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