The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic:
on THE CONJURING 2 (2016, 134 minutes, R)
The Quick of It -
As sequels go, this film does a fair job. Director James Wan returns to helm this horror flick and proves he is not losing ground in the genre. Lorraine and Ed Warren are called to London by the church to help a troubled family who is plagued by a malicious spirit.
The writing starts off shaky as the dialogue feels like a film student’s project when introducing the characters and building the story’s foundation. The exchanges were too far from natural to be comfortable with, pulling you out of the scene. But as you progress, everything settles in and the scares start to distract.
Wan has now proven himself a master at building tension. He keeps with a tried-and-true process, getting you to hold your breath at those special moments. This film doesn’t play on the realistic as much as it does the grounded reality of everyday life. You, as a part of the audience, get the multiple viewpoints so are privy to everything happening, but are also find yourself questioning the occurrences with the skeptics, and then suddenly realize you have already seen that they are proven wrong. This has to be a mark of good story-building to get that kind of response as you are sitting there taking it in.
I hate to say the acting is only passable, but it is excusable. The kids do a better job than some of the adult actors, which is key since the story is driven by the children in more ways the to two lead adults. The setting allows for play in realism and proven documentation since the 70’s were not know for their recording technology. This gives license to the director to push the envelope further when dealing with the apparitions.
The hard question of “Is this better than the first?” is a tough one. I think it could be. As horror goes, this doesn’t strongly rely on the jump scares or the fantastic images, it blends all the aspects of a good ghost story and gives you a full experience.