THE CONJURING 2
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.