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Friday, June 10, 2016

Review: THE CONJURING 2 has a little too much faith


Horror movies rarely garner positive reviews from critics, but 2013's The Conjuring, directed by James Wan, was an exception to that rule. The 112-minute film introduced Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators made famous by their role in the Amityville haunting, to masses of people who don't traditionally follow the who's-who of the supernatural world. With the exceptional casting of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson and the critical success, it only made sense for a sequel to follow. 

The sequel picks up after the famed Amityville Horror haunting, with the Warrens making television appearances but struggling to beat back critics who decry the event as a hoax. Lorraine has a vision of Ed's death and makes him promise they'll take a step back from the paranormal world, a vow which is quickly ignored once the pair are approached about a haunted home in Enfield, England. The pair investigates the haunted house and gets to know the family in it, which has been split apart and tortured by the ghosts inside. 

The Conjuring 2 adds about 20 minutes of content from it's predecessor's running time, but it also takes away some of the luster on the franchise's name. I don't expect very much from the plot side of horror films: in most cases, in fact, less is more. But The Conjuring 2 feels like a complicated marriage of several types of movies: a whoddunit mystery with a twist ending spliced with a haunted horror film with a dash of family personal drama. The film's best moments were the simple, artful scares - the first half of the film packs several punches with Farmiga haunted by dreams. But the worst moments, for me, came in the film's back half, when Ed and Lorraine struggle to figure out what's plaguing a haunted family and how to help them. 

My biggest problem with the film, though, was the over-the-top hero worship of the Warrens, who are treated something like religious superheroes and saviors. I don't know much about the duo or have strong beliefs about what they do, but it felt clear that character development was swapped out for admiration in the film's back half, leading to an over-the-top scene of Ed serenading the family with a guitar while Lorraine watches with a full heart, a very on-the-nose, shoved-down-the-throat attempt to make the viewer understand: the Warrens help people

As I mentioned before, though, the movie has several very simple, frightening scenes that will probably stick with me for some time, and Wan's technical skills combined with Farmiga's ridiculously good acting mean the film isn't a total waste. 


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