A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: James Wan
Written By: James Wan, Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Produced By: Peter Safran, Rob Cowan, James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor
Running Time: 134 Minutes
There doesn’t seem to be a director nowadays who is more versed in the genre of horror than James Wan. Exercising contemporary tropes and within the myriad of horror pictures under his belt, his name and style have become synonymous with the genre, which for the most part is a good thing.
His groundbreaking efforts in 2013’s The Conjuring catapulted him from the spotlight to the limelight, and now the time has come for Wan to delve back into the terrifying world of supernatural activity and fear in The Conjuring 2.
Horror is difficult to execute in the modern day as audiences are so desensitised by chills and eeriness that the scares we’re subjected to are nothing more than silence followed by an enormously loud crash; a trope Wan exercises continuously.
The Conjuring 2 is no different, it has more than enough sequences that rely wholeheartedly on the escalating tension, soundscape and atmosphere, which for the right audience can work brilliantly. For a premise that offers so much potential, The Conjuring 2 delivers for the most part, at points even surpassing the original, however an overabundance of the aforementioned jump scares mixed with a ridiculous climax ultimately render the film as one that becomes decreasingly scary as it progresses, where it should be the opposite, particularly for a horror film.
Following another case from the files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine King (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), The Conjuring 2 sees the couple journey to London, where the Hodgson family have been experience ongoing disturbances, particularly towards young Janet (Madison Wolfe). A supernatural presence can be felt within the house, however this particular case proves difficult to fully grasp as numerous variables come into play, clouding peoples judgment, foresight and method.
With hesitation coming from Lorraine following ongoing horrific visions of death, terror and demonism, there is an ongoing uncertainty pulsating though the film which gives it an additional thrust and urgency.
Reminiscent of certain classics such as The Exorcist (1973) and even the iconography of Nosferatu (1922), The Conjuring 2 demonstrates Wan’s aptitude with the horror genre, however he doesn’t leave anything to the imagination, which ultimately is the film’s downfall.
Suggestion and inference are imperative within a genre such as this, and when a chilling reveal repeats itself over and over again, not only is the definitive appearance of the threat out there for all to see, it devalues itself with every new reveal, therefore conditioning the audience.
Certain elements of the film are downright terrifying (for example Bonnie Aarons’ Demon Nun) however these moments, while consistent throughout the picture, are overdone, repetitive and lacklustre, especially during the film’s loud climactic moments.
This being said, it’s a credit to Wan’s innovation with contemporary technology that the film has a brilliantly gripping appearance.
Through pioneering cinematographic techniques and a score that heightens every scene without fault, there are production elements at play within The Conjuring 2 that make the experience one to savour, not matter how desperate you are to get out of the theatre.
Wan’s directorial style is on display in full force with particular set pieces that encompass everything that remains likeable with horror today. For example, a scene involving Janet watching television is excellently crafted in almost every way. From the beat progression to the lack of music and dialogue, this particular scene manages to make a remote control seem scary, which is an incredibly difficult feet when you really think about it.
Although it seems Wan knows how to craft a gripping and suspenseful scene and although Wilson and Farmiga give excellent performances once again, it’s a shame that they’re portrayed as virtually unflappable superheroes, especially when the film goes out of its way to expose their vulnerabilities.
It’s comforting to see Ed and Lorraine bring hope and strength to families in need, however there’s an unbelievable quality to them even though their chemistry and performances are so convincing. To see them suffer a little more or become exposed in another way would’ve added to the tension and gripping qualities of the film, particularly when facing their biggest threat yet.
A stunning horror film in almost every aesthetic, The Conjuring 2 proves that not every sequel to emerge from 2016 is a shameless and belated cash grab. It’s obvious that James Wan enjoys having an audience in the palm of his hand, and watching The Conjuring 2 in total darkness on the big screen, there’s something rather inspiring that shines through all the darkness and doom.
Wan respects horror filmmaking, and it’s people like him that are able to carry the legacy of the genre through the contemporary age of conditioned and desensitised audiences. He’s looking for new and innovative ways to transform the genre, however sometimes you need to rely on proven performers. For The Conjuring 2, it’s jump scares, formulas and predictability, but it’s the additional care and passion that is so clearly imprinted upon every frame that makes this stand out from the rest.