MOVIE REVIEW – One of the most arduous task laid before James Wan, when he took the directing helm of this second The Conjuring movie. How to tell the tale of a “documented paranormal” activity – thus, to record some facts of ordinary people in 1977’s London – while you need still to make a fun horror flick?
When you watch a horror movie, you are rarely much interested in the very background of the heroes of the film, or the unfortunate horror victims. Making a horror movie in 1977’s England may also seem a strange choice at first sight – usually, horror flicks either takes place at present or much farther in history. An ordinary, lower-class family isn’t your typical horror movie cast either, and the story is rarely focusing so much on their life. Still, James Wan choose to go for a broad presentation of their everyday life – while he focused on the usual demonic elements as well.
Of course, the scenario had to use this era, since the story tells the tale of a “real, documented paranormal case”. James Wan presents us a heartbreakingly poor family in 77’s London, in a haunted house, where Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) lives with her several children and without a husband, since he left her for another woman. While this exposition takes far too long, Wan still succeeds admirably to makes this particular place and era alive. It’s perhaps one of the biggest achievement of this horror movie.
Wan also knows his jump scares. Yes, sometimes they are a bit cheap, but thanks to the well-developed suspense, they still manage to frighten you – even if you are a seasoned horror fan.
Another kudos goes to the presentation if the demons in the movie. Both main demons are truly frightening and well-done with smartly used CGI effects. However, the real suspense is still missing…
“True story, bro?”
Yes, the real problem of the movie lies in its very nature of presenting a “true story”. Since it’s a documented case, you’ll perfectly know that demons won’t massacre people around. In a fiction horror from Stephen King, for example, anything can happen, the main characters can be killed or possessed by demons so strongly, that it will make them monsters themselves.
Anything can happen with anybody in a fiction horror movie, and that makes its own reality, while in the Conjuring movies you are rooted to reality too much. While Ed died in 2006 from natural causes, Lorraine is still alive, and in every scene her life is threatened, you are perfectly aware, that she’ll be alive. The fear of sudden death (or the realization that you are dead in some movies) is a powerful tool in the hand of horror movie makers, and missing it altogether can hinder this genre.
It doesn’t help The Conjuring 2 either, that it’s way too long for its own good. Almost the half of the movie is exposition and while later the demonic confrontations are very well done, you’ll still getting a bit bored at the first half of the movie.
Yes, perhaps that’s the best description of this movie. The cinematic presentation of 77’s London era, with a lower class setting is excellent; the demons are scary (although they are missing their real strength because of the story being “true”) and perfectly designed. The characters are believable, and well acted, especially Vera Farmiga’s Lorraine Warren.
If James Wan would stick to fiction, with a better-paced scenario, a movie like The Conjuring 2 would make a top notch horror flick. It’s still a good movie and if you are into paranormal activities stories, it should provide you enough thrills.