Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Direc­tor: James Wan (Saw) Star­ring: Pa­trick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Frances O’Con­nor, Madi­son Wolfe, Si­mon McBur­ney, Franka Po­tente Verdict: A long rest be­fore a fa­mil­iar ex­or­cise

IN the years since the break­out suc­cess of 2013’s smash-hit spook­fest The Conjuring, no main­stream chiller has come close to cap­ti­vat­ing and creep­ing out au­di­ences in the same way.

Un­for­tu­nately, we can now add the all-too-oblig­a­tory se­quel The Conjuring 2 to an ever-length­en­ing list of so-so en­tries on the Hol­ly­wood hor­ror ledger.

Al­ways com­pe­tent, but rarely com­pelling, The Conjuring 2 marks the re­turn of Aus­tralian­born film­maker James Wan to his pre­ferred genre. In his time away, Wan con­fi­dently steered Fast and Fu­ri­ous 7 to­wards be­com­ing the sixth high­est-gross­ing film of all-time.

Wan cer­tainly didn’t tear a leaf from that fran­chise’s driver’s man­ual when it came to his lat­est work, how­ever.

Ini­tially, the most dis­con­cert­ing thing about The Conjuring 2 is just how long it takes to get its para­nor­mally ac­tive engines revving at full power. Al­most an en­tire hour is frit­tered away on work­ing up a few mild, me­an­der­ing mood swings, most of which in­volve self-rear­rang­ing fur­ni­ture and self-start­ing do­mes­tic ap­pli­ances.

By that time, all that has been firmly es­tab­lished is that there is a de­crepit fam­ily home in 1977 Eng­land in ur­gent need of some good old­fash­ioned ghost-bust­ing by hus­ban­dand-wife duo Ed and Lor­raine Warren (Pa­trick Wilson and Vera Farmiga).

It has been a good while since the spirit-chas­ing spouses solved their most fa­mous case at Har­risville, Rhode Is­land (which served as the “true story” ba­sis for The Conjuring).

In that time, the War­rens have scaled back their work­load, mainly be­cause Lor­raine has been hav­ing vi­sions of Ed meet­ing an un­seemly fate on some fu­ture job.

Nev­er­the­less, when the Catholic Church in­ter­cedes and pushes the War­rens to­wards help­ing out in Eng­land, they re­luc­tantly re­mount the haunted-house horse.

Upon ar­rival, Ed and Lor­raine pro­ceed straight to a ram­shackle res­i­dence where a shape-shift­ing spec­tre (a grouchy old pen­sioner one minute, Mar­i­lyn Man­son in a nun’s out­fit the next) is ter­ror­is­ing a sin­gle mum (Frances O’Con­nor) and her four chil­dren. What fol­lows in the se­cond hour – if you haven’t al­ready dozed off – is a mod­er­ately scary col­lec­tion of jolts and one big, sus­tained burst of un­worldly fury, all well-ex­e­cuted by a direc­tor of Wan’s ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence.

How­ever, there is a magic and a soul­ful grip of pe­riod-era pro­duc­tion de­sign that were both such a big part of The Conjuring that are no­tably ab­sent from the se­quel.

Per­for­mances from se­ries reg­u­lars and new­com­ers alike also fall slightly short of the mark, though slug­gish script­ing (adapted from ac­tual events widely re­garded in a far more ten­u­ous light than those that tran­spired at Ami­tyville) does not give the ac­tors a lot to work with.

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