Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Conjuring 2 Review

The Conjuring was a reawakening for me when it comes to an appreciation for horror cinema. Prior to that film being released I was very much a pessimist of the genre, as franchises like Saw and Hostel and Paranormal Activity had very little substance to them capable of keeping me interested for more than a handful of minutes. I remember being shocked by the positive reviews to The Conjuring as I figured it would be nothing more than recycled jump scares and fatigued tropes, so I went into it with an open mind...and I absolutely loved it. Rather than throw shit at us and pray that it made us jump, director James Wan showed an incredible amount of patience using mood and atmosphere and wonderfully creepy set pieces in order to make my skin crawl by building dread.

A sequel though? Don't horror sequels always disappoint compared to the original?

Well, yes and no. I am absolutely certain I prefer the first film at this moment, that doesn't mean I didn't dig the hell out of The Conjuring 2 as well. The aspects that fell short for me were the fact that Wan seemed a bit more reliant on those jump scares I mentioned before, and also that the haunted home and the characters that occupied it this time around just didn't quite engage me the way the Perron family and their big, creaky abode did back in 2013.

What does make me second guess myself though are when I think about those jump scares, because criticize the reliance on them all I want but lord are they executed masterfully. Often times I am not phased by these attempts to get me flying out of my seat, but goodness Wan did some extremely terrifying stuff here that did in fact make my heart skip a beat. This nun business...I just can't. Absolutely horrifying. The type of figure that will pop up in my mind in a few hours when I am trying to sleep, and next thing I know I will be laying awake in the middle of the night watching a comedy to try to trick my brain into thinking about something else.

One scene in particular involving Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) and a painting of the face of the aforementioned nun...good gravy. I find myself looking into the other room trying to pierce my sight through the darkness because of it, fearing what lurks in the shadows. It keeps playing over and over in my thoughts and I am uncomfortable. I know it's all fake, I am far old enough to recognize the magic of movie making, yet when done right a horror film can trick us into believing in the unbelievable.

Speaking of Farmiga, she and Patrick Wilson as her husband Ed have demonstrated excellent chemistry through both of these films and thank heavens for them here because again, the family being terrorized at the center of this story just didn't win me over. I don't know what it was because there are plenty of pieces in play that I should be more sympathetic towards, like vulnerable kids and a struggling single mom, but they lacked the charisma that I gravitated towards in Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor and their kids showcased in the first film. This could also be because the love of the Warren's is more built up and focused on this time around with premonitions of death causing some second guessing as to whether they should even be involved in the first place, where as the familial dynamic in The Conjuring contained the most emotional depth.

The more I am thinking about it and writing about it, the more I appreciate The Conjuring 2. I recall the first time I watched the first film I was thrilled yet a bit nitpicky, and it played even stronger months later in my living room on Blu-ray. Gut feeling the same happens with the sequel.

Oh lord I just thought about the nun again.

Heaven help me.


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