Words by @lolajosephine
The Conjuring 2 This is the first horror sequel, I’ve seen, that delivers on the freak-out factor more than the original!
I left the cinema a satisfied customer – paranoid and with intermittent waves of intense anxiety, and a sudden fear of the dark…
Where recent American horror The Boy (2016) tried, and failed, to maximize on the British creep factor, this film really does bring the fear solidly home, right to the doorstep.
James Wan’s vision hasn’t brought anything new to horror; it plays with tropes, formulas and motifs we already know, not just from The Conjuring 1, but also from the wider genre. A film like IT Follows (2015) takes the classic concepts of horror, and then reverses and perverts them (the strange but familiar setting/chronology, the lack of parental protection, the use of sex and abjection.) IT Follows straddles the comfortable/uncomfortable boundary that fuels horror, and uses the unheimlich to masterful and novel effect.
The Conjuring 2, whilst it has a similar unrelenting tension, is completely opposite how it handles scares. James Wan takes the conventions of horror and, rather than perverting or reversing them, uses them effectively, with precision and style. The film has had a mixed response, one review on The Guardian said:
‘This clutch of horror clichés might just make you jump while rolling your eyes.’
And blankly condemns the film for just ‘rehashing clichés’ – which I feel that this is wholly unfair. Whilst another Guardian review said:
‘it’s exceedingly well-crafted, relentlessly terrifying, and boasts characters you actually root for.’
So is it a poor rehash of an overdone plot, or not?
Horror films are cursed with term “cliché,” it haunts the genre like the proverbial ghost. With The Conjuring 2 we see something that plays with clichés and tropes, uses them effectively, but doesn’t simply rehash them. The Rolling Stone review asks us: ‘is the haunted house genre played out?’ Erm… YAH! But that doesn’t matter if you make it work, and here Wan makes it work.
What exactly works though? The film’s shared continuity with the original, the performances given by actors, the camera tricks (by cinematographer Don Burgess) and – although it seems small it is paramount – its timing, are what make this film work so well. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are professional, and believable as real-life paranormal investigator couple Ed and Lorraine Warren – once again. The entire feel and tone of the film, despite the drastic change of setting, are keeping with the original Conjuring. Of course the coloring, cinematography and cast all contribute to this. Still, this shared atmosphere aids massively in the film’s overall effect – which is, partly, why the Annabelle (2014) spin off was a crock of shit.
The camera angles and clever cutting disorientate audiences making predicting the jump scares much more difficult, and the double shock scares are well interspersed and hard to see coming. But the timing of the film is what sets it apart from other formulaic horror. Wan is a wizard with making us wait, the moments of quiet between scares make this film what it is. Overall for horror fans who enjoy to be creeped out by sinister shadows and unknown entities, rather than being made to recoil from gushes of blood and sprawled intestines, (of course both have their charms,) this is a must see film – and I would highly recommend going for the cinema experience too! The end is a slight disappointment but the film’s incessant fear mongering throughout make up for that.
Words by @lolajosephine