‘The Conjuring 2’ Review
From contributing film critic Barry Levitt
James Wan’s The Conjuring (2013) was a rare example of a modern American horror that was both commercially and critically successful. Returning three years later with The Conjuring 2, the film reunites director Wan with leads Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. The duo plays real-life Ed and Lorraine Warren, demonologists who head to England to attempt to solve the mystery of the Enfield Poltergeist case, which attracted major media attention in the 1970s.Before travelling to England, the film opens with the Warrens documenting the Amityville horrors in New York. While performing a séance, Lorraine relives the murders, and also encounters the unexpected. Lorraine comes face to face with a demonic nun creature, which causes a massive upheaval in Lorraine’s life. The film attempts to balance the Enfield case with the devil nun, which has varying results, but ultimately becomes the film’s biggest problem. At 134 minutes, the film sputters along, finding itself dragged down after a series of great moments. The Conjuring 2 struggles to cram what could easily be two individual features into one, and it prevents it from reaching the intensity of the first film.
There is a lot to enjoy here, and it’s mostly thanks to the film’s director. James Wan possesses a great control of tone, and, with the exception of a few bizarre, out-of-place sequences, keeps the viewer tense. The film consistently diverts expectations, taking its time to slowly but surely build up fear. Jump scares do not arrive when expected, and Wan constantly misdirects the viewer. When the jumps do come, they are particularly effective, and it is difficult to imagine someone leaving the film unshaken. Wan exhibits a truly impressive fearlessness with his camera (a particularly impressive tracking shot inside the Enfield home early in the film is a standout), which elevates key moments effectively. While contemporary horror often feels lacking in the director’s chair, it is refreshing to see James Wan is developing a technical mastery of the camera.While The Conjuring 2 does scare often, it only succeeds intermittently as a film. Farmiga and Wilson deliver excellent performances, as does Madison Wolfe, who plays one of the four children in the Enfield home. The script, however, is too convoluted, and annoyingly pushes its love of faith and Christianity in place of plot details and genuine character development. Its overlong runtime prevents a number of great sequences from gaining their full impact, and the films finale cannot help but feel anti-climactic. For horror fans, there is quite a lot to enjoy here, and there are moments that genuinely inspire fear. However, The Conjuring 2 really could have used some more time in the editing room, and nowhere is this clearer than in the last fifteen minutes, where it feels as if multiple endings have been tacked on to one another, erasing some of the films impact. While it provides enough to be worth seeing, especially if you enjoyed the first film, the film still feels like a missed opportunity to take things to the next level.(3 / 5)
(Photos copyright: New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster, Evergreen Media Group, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, The Safran Company)