† H a p p y H a l l o w e e n †
Since releasing horror films in the summer isn’t one of the better ideas I’ve heard, I have decided to instead include this movie as one of my annual October reviews. The movie in question is The Conjuring 2, which I am willing to bet is just as accurate in its claim to be “based on a true story” as the last Conjuring was.
As a follow-up to The Conjuring, it is considerably more well-made and genuine than Annabelle (which, in itself, is about to get a sequel). It employs numerous tropes and ideas that horror connoisseurs will recognize and uses some of them in relatively fresh and interesting ways. I’ve come to expect as much from director James Wan by now (though I’m still not especially interested in seeing Furious 7) but the film as a whole is easier to predict than its predecessor and one helluva lot harder to take seriously.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are back as paranormal investigation duo/happily married delusionals Ed and Lorraine Warren. By the year 1976, the latter has reached a point in her career where she has begun having horrific nightmares, some of which involve the murder of Ed as committed by her, or possibly a creature from beyond that possesses her. Despite this, she and Ed travel to London to investige a new case involving the poverty-stricken Hodgson family. The film lets us know we’re in London by blasting “London Calling” and shoving in a poorly edited montage of English stock footage, all before including words like “wanker” among the first pieces of dialog we hear. This is easily the scariest thing in the movie.
If you somehow haven’t gotten your fill of creepy children’s accessories, such as swings and toys, being moved around by invisible entities (who by all means should be powerful enough to do worse things) or the kids themselves behaving creepily, then the things that happen to the Hodgsons will be right up your alley. There’s also a rotting old man walking around their house and literally providing in-universe jumpscares by lurking behind people and/or hiding somewhere dim and then yelling at them really loudly. He’d make for a succesful filmmaker, is my guess.
Most memorable of all is probably The Nun, a monstrous humanoid who will be at least half as popular as Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad on Halloween this year. I can’t wait to sit this one out.
The best thing about this movie is that it is pleasingly shot and lovely to look at. Even silly horror moments are made a tad more effective by how the camera moves around the scenery and how everything is framed. Wan clearly still has a knack for this genre, but I miss when he made purely insane movies like Saw. Another thing I appreciated was the appearance of Javier Botet, a contortionist actor known for his role as Patient Zero in the REC series. Hard-to-spot roles like that are always fun if you know where to look.
Some people will have fun with this movie but many will think it doesn’t have enough in way of achievements. Certain performances are distractingly bad, the editing can be equally bothersome, and the scares inspire the wrong emotion, i.e. amusement.
There’s been a lot of talking, at least amongst my social media connections, about the existence of ghosts lately. I suppose it’s the appropriate season but for some reason people seem even more insistent on believing in the paranormal this year than, say, last year. I even have a friend who wanted to try using the Ouija board – but not before, she told me, she had done a sufficient amount of Googling on the precautions and safety measures you should take before attempting to contact spirits. Hopefully she managed to ignore whatever articles propose that putting a small piece of wood on top of a larger and flatter piece of wood doesn’t normally achieve anything.
The Conjuring 2 does nothing special in terms of the haunted house genre and it’s laughable more often than it’s scary (wait ’til you get a load of some of the jumpcuts in this one), but it should provide some reassurance for people who want to maintain their beliefs in ghosts. Considering that there are several news articles about people having died mysteriously while watching The Conjuring 2, isn’t nonsense like that exactly how films like this become popular? If there’s a movie about ghost hunters and haunted locations that Hollywood “confirms” is based on a true story, and The Telegraph “confirms” is cursed, what chance do the skeptics stand? I think I’ll conclude this review by linking my readers to a still-relevant listicle I published in 2014 on that very subject.
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