By Michael Kaye
The Conjuring 2 (Review)
They say two of the hardest genres to get absolutely right are comedy and horror. What's even harder is making a sequel that tries to capture that same lightning in a bottle twice. Now, most of the time in these genres, sequels almost always pale in comparison to the original. It takes a certain set of skills to not only recreate what made people fall in love with the original, but build on the mythology and advance the story in a compelling fashion. That's exactly what the modern master of horror James Wan accomplished with The Conjuring 2, based on the Enfield Poltergeist reports.
Here's the story. Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.
I loved this movie just as much, if not a little more than the original. It does everything I mentioned above, and then some! I could probably go on for hours about this movie, but here are just some of the highlights.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First off, everyone in the cast is incredible! Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, two of the most underrated actors working in Hollywood today, continue to absolutely crush it as Ed and Lorraine Warren respectively. This time we get to see more interactions between the two of them, as we learn just how much they were destined to be together. Yeah, believe it or not, this is the best love story I've seen all year that happens to have a horror backdrop. Of the Hodgson family, major props have to go to Madison Wolfe as Janet, the daughter who's channeling the spirit of Billy Wilkin, played by Bob Adrian and voiced by Robin Atkin Downes. Francis O'Connor did a great job playing Peggy Hodgson, who's doing the best she can as a single mother raising her 4 kids while also dealing with this haunting. Finally, we have our main antagonists, Bonnie Aarons as the Demon Nun, and Javier Botet as the Crooked Man, who's awfully reminiscent of The Babadook.
Speaking of the Babadook, I have to believe that, at least subconsciously, that movie was in the back of the Hays brother's minds when they came up with this story with James Wan. What both films have in common is that there's more going on with the film than simply a haunted house story that we've seen a million times. I mean, sure, on the surface it IS like every other haunted house movie from the last 40 years. As much as I appreciated the passing references to the Amityville Horror, I'm actually thankful that Wan didn't make that the focus of this movie. My favorite thing about this movie is that it provides an awesome opportunity for Chad and Carey Hayes to show their range as screenwriters. You'd think they were horror experts after the first Conjuring, but that wasn't the case. Their first horror film was 2004's House of Wax, but before that they were better known for writing various TV movies and episodes of Baywatch Nights. So it makes sense that they'd be able to balance a love story with your traditional haunted house movie.
But the real star, naturally, is director James Wan. Hot off of the set of Furious 7, it's nice to see that Wan can successfully switch back and forth between action and horror. Nothing against what Blumhouse productions has going for them, but in the time between the original Conjuring and its sequel, he haven't had a lot of strong mainstream horror films. The best ones that I can recall were considerably low-scale in terms of budget and popularity. But now the master has returned to take back his crown, and do so on a much larger scale. With twice the budget as the original, Wan has seriously upped the anti with better lighting, better sound design, better cinematography, and of course, bigger and better scares. This movie and Furious 7 have gotten me really excited for his take on Aquaman, especially if he's encountering the monsters from The Trench.
Finally, it wouldn't be a James Wan horror film without frequent collaborator Joseph Bishara composing the score. He actually does a lot of great tension building and fake outs to really mess with the audience's expecations, and I'm pretty sure I fell for it every single time. As far as the soundtrack, we're still in the 70's, so the music they've chosen is still awesome, from The Clash's "London Calling" to Patrick Wilson's uncanny Elvis impersonation singing "Can't Help Falling In Love."
Believe the hype, The Conjuring 2 is every bit as great, if not more so than the original. There may have been some flaws that I overlooked, but I don't care. I love James Wan and everything his new production company Atomic Monster is doing, and I hope he gets to do more stuff with the Hays Brothers. I hope Madison Wolfe becomes a huge star after this movie, and I hope people finally recognize the brilliance of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Horror fans, as well as casual movie fans, get your ass to the theater this instant and go see The Conjuring 2!
Now it's your turn! When are you going to see The Conjuring 2, assuming you haven't already? Also, what other movies would you like to see Chad and Carey Hays involved with, regardless of genre? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next review, where I pull the greatest magical heist ever with Now You See Me 2!