LA Film Festival Movie Review: THE CONJURING 2 (2016)

As I sat in packed house of the TCL Chinese Theater for the world premiere of James Wan’s “The Conjuring 2”, I couldn’t help but count my lucky stars.  I have been a fan of Wan’s work ever since “Saw” came into my life and as I watched his career and talent progress the more I appreciated and admired his films.  When “The Conjuring” premiered in 2013 I was blown away and convinced that nothing could ever top the horror and dread of what I had just watched. When it was announced that he would be making a sequel, I was beside myself with excitement and anticipation, but nervous. What if it didn’t live up to my expectations? Regardless of what the outcome would be, I knew that I would walk away from “The Conjuring 2” with a set decision – I was either going to love it or hate it.  At that moment, the theatre lights dimmed and the film started to roll, and for the next 2 hours and 15 minutes I was completely engulfed into “The Conjuring 2”.

The premise of “The Conjuring 2” centers around one of the most notorious paranormal experiences ever documented, the Enfield Poltergeist.  We are once again reunited with Ed and Lorraine Warren who travel to England to help a single mother of four who is being terrorized by a malevolent spirit.  I was aware of the Enfield Poltergeist prior to watching the film so I was extremely interested with how James Wan was going to deal with some of the controversy surrounding the events.  To say that this film was creepy would be one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever made – “The Conjuring 2” was downright terrifying.  What James Wan is so talented at doing is making films scary without having to use all the traditional techniques that are shown throughout modern horror films.  Sure, there are a few instances where music cues are used to initiate a jump scare, but it’s the dread and hopelessness that seeps in from the start of the film up until after the film has ended that really ends up getting to you.

The film stars Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren) and Vera Farminga (Lorraine Warren) who work seamlessly together.  They are a perfect match for the infamous paranormal investigators and have a chemistry that is seldom seen in recent films.  As talented as they both are, the real star of the film is Madison Wolfe who plays the possessed Janet Hodgson.  Her transformation throughout the film is breathtaking and her ability to morph herself into this hideous demon was phenomenal.  It’s quite apparent that Madison Wolfe is an extremely brilliant actress who has a shining career in her future.  I’m sure you are also wondering about the scares.  There were moments in the theater when the audience screamed out loud (I will refrain from admitting if I was one of those people) and at times you could feel the tension and panic continuously rising from those around you.  Wan is also a genius when it comes to making characters that are down right creepy and nightmare-inducing.  We are introduced to that demonic entity in a few different ways (I will never look at nuns the same) and it leaves a tremendous impact where you can’t help but look over your shoulder to make sure no one is watching you from the shadows.  Wan is also a master of atmosphere and ambiance and knows how to create that perfect scene to send chills down your spine.  It never gets old when you have the gray color scheme and the rolling fog drifting in to set the stage for the carnage that is about to unfold.

Overall, I absolutely loved “The Conjuring 2.”  In a world where we are inundated with sequels, this is one of those times where it’s acceptable to have one.  My only issue with the film was maybe it could have been a little shorter, but honestly that’s the only thing I could see people having a problem with.  The acting is solid, the scares are on a whole different level, and the chemistry between all the characters is palpable.  James Wan continues to hold true to his title of Master of Horror and I can only imagine where he is going to go from here.

Shannon McGrew
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