“Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.” (per IMDB)
Warner Brothers is Confident in The Conjuring 2. So much so that they decided to try and capture lightning in a bottle for a 2nd time and release this haunting sequel in the beginnings of the summer season. A bold move for a film that would seemingly fit well in the fall season on the cusp of Halloween. But you all loved the first film, Released July 19th, in the dead of summer 2013. The modest 20 million dollar haunting pulled in $318 Million Worldwide. A Sequel, from the Studio Perspective, seems like a No Brainer. But does it live up to the reputation that precedes it?
We start with Ed & Lorraine Warren as they are coming off of the Amityville House case. An Incident that is widely known as it has spun it’s own series of movies. The Warren’s were very publically involved with the case, and it garnered them a lot of media attention. This also called into question their validity as many believed they were frauds raveled in a hoax.
Cut to the title sequence and the promise of the Warren’s most diabolical case yet, the story of the Hodgson family.
We follow the Hodgson kids as they exit school and get a sense of who each of them are, primarily Janet who is the youngest daughter and the focus of the paranormal activity yet to come. As Supernatural events begin to unfold in the house and progressively escalate, the media is brought in and the Warren’s are tapped to investigate. During this 1st act, I can’t lie I looked at my watch to see where we were going with this. The beginning is somewhat of a slow burn. But the time is not wasted as it sows small threads that pay off in the 3rd act, as Janet Hodgson’s possession comes with a flavor of The Exorcist and an unforeseen twist that ties personally back to the Warren’s personal demons.
Visually this outing takes it up a notch. James Wan brings intense and chilling haunting sequences that fall in and out of “dream states” that haven’t been this seamless since A Nightmare on Elm Street. And creature designs that are as chilling as they are menacing. Inexplicably this film is Rated R for reasons that I can’t quite seem to pinpoint, aside from the allusion a “Rated R” Horror Film can give as a selling point. But overall, Wan does it better here than he ever could with anything previous from the Furious to the Insidious. As Ed Warren ventures into their Museum of Haunted Artifacts, he places an item on the shelf and I think back to “Cabin in the Woods” and how every little object was a different story waiting to be told. I like to consider this the “Endless Sequel/Prequel Room” and want to see more of this loving couple’s adventures in the Paranormal.
In conclusion the only flaw I felt that hinders the movie slightly would be its lengthy run time, going slightly longer than its predecessor at a hefty 2 hours & 14 minutes. Only a minor gripe stacked against a solid, well told story. It also ends with something that I love from any film that touts itself to be a true story, pictures and audio from the actual case files. Showing us the real Warrens, the real Hodgsons, an ominous easy chair and evidence of Janet’s possession.
Also, Patrick Wilson may have just publicly auditioned for an Elvis Presley Bio-Pic. Go to the theaters this weekend. You’ll see.