While researching about the Enfield Poltergeists, on which this film is based, I couldn’t help but notice a stark polarization of views about the incidents. While a large chunk of skeptics believe that the events were nothing more than pranks that were conjured up by two highly imaginative girls who were aided by their brothers and possibly their mother. The skeptics had enough proof to back their claims. Inspite of that there was a considerable number of people who believed their claims of poltergeist to be true. This included inventor Maurice Grosse, a man who from the very beginning supported their claims. In this context what The Conjuring 2 does best is to strike a sublime balance between these two poles. It scares the be-Jesus out of you with its paranormal take and yet leaves enough room to support both the theories that the believers and skeptics put forth. That in turns adds a sense of astute credibility to the story.
The story much like the first Conjuring film starts with Ed and Lorraine Warren finding themselves in the middle of the Amityville Haunting Case. While Lorraine goes into a séance to relive the events that happened on the night of the Amityville murders to determine whether the prime suspect was telling the truth when he said that he was under demoniac influence when he committed the murders. In her vision she is drawn into a nun-lookalike demon who shows her that her husband is in grave danger. At about the same time, hundreds of miles away in England, Peggy Hodgson’s family starts experiencing strange things at their home. She is a single mother with two daughters and two boys. Her youngest daughter Janet is found ending up in strange places and speaking to someone in her sleep. Soon more sinister things happen and Ed and Lorraine’s intervention is asked upon by the church.
We go to horror films to be scared and The Conjuring 2 gives you exactly that. The film is a collection of creepy scenes. There is hardly a single scene that doesn’t end up in scares. As I sat through this film, I noticed that practically every scene would start off slow and easy and then gradually buildup into a strange and scary finale. There are many jump out of your seats moments but what’s more effective are the subtle scares. This film has more scares than a bunch of horror films combined. What I loved about the scares here were every once in a while they were able to surprise me. Being a horror film fanatic, that is something that doesn’t happen to me too often. I can pretty much predict every jump scare in a film and that’s what reduces its fun for me but here, some of the scares caught me off guard and sent shivers down my spine.
James Wan is pretty much one of the best horror directors of recent times. He successfully uses the atmosphere, superb cinematography and sound design to create a mood and setting that will scare even the most difficult to scare folks. I will have to single out the cinematography here because it is just so gorgeous. It’s difficult to be so plush when you are practically filming just a house but Don Burgess really makes each frame memorable. The cinematography is ably supported by Kirk M. Morri’s razor sharp editing. Scene after scene he builds tension using the performances, the visual palate and his sense of pacing. The production design by Julie Berghoff also deserves special mention as it helps transpose you to the 1970s England and keeps the film authentic and visually captivating.
However this film could have been only as good as the performances. Madison Wolfe plays the demented girl Janet with such conviction that you as the audience will fall for her act. She is able to toy with your beliefs of her character as she jumps between being someone who is possessed and in pain to someone who might be playing an elaborate prank. But in each turn she is believebale. Frances O’Connor plays her mother with authority and is able to instill fear through her expressions. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren are supremely confident in their acts. They have the experience and success of the previous film to lie back on and hence they don’t take a single odd step. Apart from the Enfield Poltergeist, there is also a very personal story unfolding in the Warren household. Lorraine is scared for her husband’s safety after her vision of the Amityville and that makes her question whether she wants to help the family in the first place or not? That creates room for more drama and also makes you doubly anxious as the climax approaches.
The only compliant I have with the film was the abrupt ending and the ease with which the demon was taken care of. Having said that, The Conjuring 2 is still the scariest movie that I have seen in recent times. It is not only scary but also has one hell of a story to tell. It remains faithful to the actual events and gives you enough reason to believe that the poltergeist was for real. Great performances from the entire cast, superb direction from Wan and terrific execution makes this film a must watch for one and all. However if you have a problem with horror films than you should steer clear of this one because if you don’t then you might just have to spend two hours with your eyes closed or clasped.
Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)