Just three years ago, The Conjuring was a big deal. It was my favorite horror film of the year, which is surprising because it was such a main stream film. For the most part, horror has been dominated with the unique indie horrors running around the last few years.
But that isn’t the only reason it was a big deal. It was also noted that it was rated R, not for gore, violence, nudity, language, or anything else. Just R for being too scary. Now, obviously, there are a lot of problems with the people who rate films. But that is still a rather unique reason to give something an R reason and hasn’t really been done much at all before or since then.
The Conjuring had a lot of hype behind it. So much hype that they didn’t just announce The Conjuring 2, but several spin-off movies, which is why we now have the shit fest that is Annabelle. It’s badness didn’t ruin the doll from the first film thankfully.
There is a lot of pressure on James Wan the director, because he can’t go and make a PG-13 sequel. Nor can he resort to gore just to force the R. He had to try and make something just scary enough without cheap methods to get his rating. And well, going into it, I only know that it received the R for “terror and horror violence.” Good job Wan. I hope I am shaking in my boots.
Good thing I have a nun fetish, or else this might have terrified me.
Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are a ghost exercisting (?) power couple, kicking ass and taking names. You know that, you saw the first film. They also helped all of that Amityville stuff, which you will see parts of early on in this film. During that, Lorraine gets a bad vision that shuts her down for awhile, but they still keep chugging along, albeit at a slower pace.
Across the pond, however, in the Enfield borough of London, England, a family is about to have a real bad time. The Hodgson family is a poor family, led by their mom (Frances O’Connor) who is raising four children on her own, because the father has walked out on them for another lady. Jeez. Her oldest are daughters, Margaret (Lauren Esposito) and Janet (Madison Wolfe), and then two sons, Johnny (Patrick McAuley) and Billy (Benjamin Haigh).
Things begin to go bump and clang in the night. Toys play with themselves. At first you assume poor stuttering billy will be the child in danger, but nope, it is Janet, who starts to sleep walk and yell at unseen demons, getting sick and quite violent. Oh shit, demons and a haunted house, again!
And the Warrens are the couple, reluctantly, who will help make things better. Man, it is really hard to kind of hype a haunted house / demon possession plot line. There are a lot of them after all.
The neighbos in London are played by Maria Doyle Kennedy and Simon Delaney. The local ghost expert is Simon McBurney, a different more skeptical ghost expert is Franka Potente (Hey, that’s Lola!), and Bob Adrian plays the main mean ghost guy!
And those pajamas were played by the same cloth that used to used to be a sail on a pirate ship!
James Wan is a really clever dude. He is consistently making better quality horror films than anyone else out there. I don’t even really like the Insidious films, but I recognize the passion and quality that went into them. I mean, he made the first Saw film! What a scary dude!
And he keeps the scares coming in this sequel. This is not like Annabelle. Fuck Annabelle. This is scary, this is well crafted, this has heart.
Horror films tend to start off of slow, a rare scare here and there, with moments in between scares to calm yourself down, usually before a hectic finale. Well, the scares are everywhere in this film. When I found myself in a time between scares to settle, it sometimes had scares of their own, keeping me on my toes. Hell, it had so many scares, I was even afraid to just hold onto my cup for a drink, thinking I’d shriek and spill it.
And when I say this is well crafted, I can’t believe the camera work for what is a mainstream horror film. The first time we see the house, the camera pans around with the family going about their day, zooming in and around rooms, around furniture, up the stairs, everyone feels like a big open house where tons of mischief can take place. The scenes are so well set up it is a delight on the eyes, even when there is something ghastly on the screen. The best scene was between Wilson and the demon, all one nice long shot, with a single focus and a lot of creepy atmosphere.
I was also excited that the polished look of the film didn’t take away from the fright. If something looks too produced, it can take someone out of the film. And in a lot of horrors, they make it look grainier, or extra dark, or whatever. But this movie wants you to see everything and it adds so much to the overall experience.
And sure, yeah, there are jump scares. But these are high quality jump scares. Jump scares you can see coming and have appropriate build up and aren’t completely random just for the cheap thrill. And audio based jump scares as well. The sounds? They will make you squirm.
Despite my rating, it isn’t perfect. I thought a few lines were cringe worthy, and Farmiga wasn’t on her A-Game. Which is a shame, given how excellent she is in Bates Motel.
I think the only reason I wasn’t scared going to sleep after watching this movie, is because I have had a shitty sleep week and couldn’t help but pass out despite glaring at the shadows in my room.
4 out of 4.