Our favorite demon-fighting married couple, Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren are back! If you didn’t get a chance to catch “The Conjuring 2” in theaters this past weekend, I highly recommend booking your tickets now!
If you haven’t seen “The Conjuring,” then this review is most likely not for you because you need to go watch it ASAP before moving forward. Just make sure to have a comfy pillow you can hide under, along with a friend and a night-light. Horror films of late have not done their job in exciting our fears and living up to the hype of the trailers. For example, “Paranormal Activity” overstayed its welcome and has become a mockery of itself. “The Conjuring” in 2013 proved that you can still ignite scares and suspense if the story is just right and executes some old-school horror tricks without being cheesy and predictable.
In “The Conjuring,” we are introduced to the married duo The Warrens. It is 1971 when Carolyn and Roger Perron move their family into a dilapidated Rhode Island farm house and soon strange things start happening. The Warrens are called to examine the house and discover a whole area steeped in a satanic haunting that is now targeting the Perron family wherever they go. Not to spoil anything for anyone that hasn’t seen the first film, but basically the Warrens are a team act and are threatened as they try to fight the evil lurking in this house surrounding the family.
One of the strongest aspects of the storytelling that made “The Conjuring” so effective in creating suspense and scares was Lorraine and Ed. Farmiga and Wilson portray the Warrens’ with a realness and embody their characters fully that allows the audience to care about them and become invested. We follow them on their journey and are unaware, just as they are, of whether they will get out alive. We are not only presented with the main haunting, but given a glimpse into other stories that the Warrens have conquered and are just as creepy, especially the Annabelle doll that spawned its own standalone film. This intrigue makes you not only root for the Warrens to succeed, but also fear for them knowing that they are just as vulnerable as the family being haunted.
Its sequel, “The Conjuring 2,” starts off with the most famous of all horror films—both onscreen and real life—Amityville. Lorraine investigates the house and finds out about the evil that lurks there. Through her visions, she sees one of the most evil demons she has encountered and this spawns her and Ed to leave the demon-fighting business for seven years fearing this is a sign to stop or else! Spoiler: This demon, dressed as a nun, is one of the scariest figures on screen. The design of this demon is perfect, because of the black and white nun outfit which makes it completely unseen until the very last minute, and before you know what’s happening it pops out and you jump out of your seat! (I just learned today that, like Annabelle, this demon will be getting its own spin-off film).
Fast forward to 1977 in London where a single mom, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) with four children, Janet (Madison Wolfe), Margaret (Lauren Esposito), Billy (Benjamin Haigh) and Johnny (Patrick McAuley) are coping with the loss of their father since he impregnated the lady down the street and left them without anything at all (he even took all the music from the house). Janet becomes possessed and strange things start happening that cannot be explained. The evil continues to grow. Back at the Warrens, Lorraine is having visions of the evil from Amityville. After the church seeks the Warrens’ help to investigate the London haunting, we don’t really know if what Lorraine is seeing is the same evil that is lurking in the Hodgson’s house.
The film manages to set itself apart from other horror franchises by instilling something we haven’t seen in awhile: it grounds itself on humanity. The Hodgson’s can’t simply move out of their house, because they have nowhere else to go. The Warrens’ love for each other is a big component of what keeps them grounded and able to fight through these situations, but it also makes them vulnerable when one of them is in jeopardy. The fact that they end up finding themselves in situations that we aren’t sure they can make it out of is what keeps the tension flowing, as well as James Wan’s brilliant directing and misdirection. Sometimes simpler is better, and Wan executes the scares with ease and keeps us on our toes.
The story does have its flaws, in that the tie in between Lorraine’s visions and the evil in London is not thoroughly cohesive, but I could look past this because of Wan’s eye for keeping us on our toes with the twist at the end!
The film manages to keep the tension going until the very end and introduces new thrills in the form of the Crooked Man (you’ll know what I mean) that will make you not to turn off the light! I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but I’ll say I’ll never see nuns the same way again! I highly recommend watching this film this weekend if you haven’t already. I hope we are in for a third film to make a “Conjuring” trilogy! We shall see.
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