Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Conjuring 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! So, basically all horror films are based on "true stories" now?

The Conjuring 2 – 4 out of 5

Despite my natural skepticism and the simple fact that I just don’t believe in ghosts, I walked out of The Conjuring delightfully entertained and sufficiently spooked.  Sure, I don’t buy the whole “based on a true story” nonsense and I definitely don’t buy the supposed works of Ed and Lorraine Warren—I won’t be one of “those guys” who will write off their beliefs as nonsense but I can’t help but wonder if their desire to find the supernatural didn’t blind them to the possibility of explanations that existed in the realm of the natural world.  I mean, they did declare the Amityville house to be legit despite the fact most facts lean towards the reality that everything that happened in that house was completely made up by the Lutz family.  It's kinda interesting that the film begins at the Amityville house and then travels across the pond to deal with another haunting that has, since the investigation by the Warrens, been declared a hoax.  That being said, I found I really enjoyed this one like I did the first one.

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Don't talk to her until she's had her coffee, amirite?  Ha ha...Hashtag Office Humor.
I'll be here all week.

After seeing a horrible vision of a nightmarish demon at the famed Amityville house, Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) fears for her husband’s safety.  She pleads with Ed (Patrick Wilson) for them to stop investigating but before he can comply with her wishes, the church requests them to travel to England to look into the torment of a small family.  A young mother (Frances O’Connor) fears for the safety of her children after a demonic presence begins to torment one of her daughters (Madison Wolfe).  Now Ed and Lorraine must get to the bottom of the disturbance and find out if these hauntings are legit or whether the children are perpetrating an elaborate hoax.  However, the truth ends up to be more horrifying than they could imagine and all the fears Lorraine has seen might be coming true.

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She's scared at what she sees.  Not the demon nun but rather how ugly
that mirror is.

I’ve watched a lot of horror films over my life and I have found this genre to be one of the more difficult genres to entertain me.  Partially this is because it’s really hard to scare me because I’ve come to recognize horror clich├ęs and tropes long before they are even beginning in scary movies and the fact that there are so very few of these films that are well crafted.  There was a time when this genre was given new life thanks to directors like Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter but, since then, the genre hasn’t seen too many stars rising and making names for themselves behind the camera and making horror magic…and then came James Wan.

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Old people and children:  The two scariest things in the world.
Second only to spiders.

I honestly believe that James Wan will go down as one of the greats in this genre as he seems to be one of the only Hollywood directors that can craft horror films that not only are scary but are terrifically shot and actually have interesting and compelling characters that venture away from the usual stereotypes that fill up these films.  Like the other frightening films from Wan, he delivers The Conjuring 2 with a hefty dose of skin-crawling moments and an atmosphere that is rich with unsettling moments and nerve-wrecking tension.  Another strong suit of Wan is his use of dynamic shots (one thing that made his work on Furious 7 so great and one thing that really makes me excited to see what he does on Aquaman).  Wan doesn’t settle for boring static shots and instead brings in very compelling camera work that keeps the story moving and makes even the most mundane moments feel heavy and important.

                                                                                                               Warner Bros. Pictures
Bob Ross is rolling over in his grave seeing that painting.

One of things I dug about the first film was the relationship between Ed and Lorraine Warren.  Sure, I don’t buy the work of the two real life Warrens or that Lorraine supposedly had powers but I was drawn to the love they had to each other and it was a nice antithesis to the usual horror film affairs.  Seeing a committed couple in love rather than teens getting punished for getting nasty was a nice change of pace and the natural chemistry from Wilson and Farmiga helped carry the film along.  This interesting and captivating relationship is back and the performances from Wilson and Farmiga are still fantastic.

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"So, can our excellent sweaters do anything to combat this evil?"

The rest of the performances are just as good as the leading players.  Madison Wolfe who plays the child that, unfortunately, has the attention of the demon within the house does a tremendous job.  Even with Wilson and Farmiga making their portrayal of a devoted husband and wife ghost hunting team look effortless and having Wan doing a great job behind the camera, all could have been lost—even decent scares destroyed—if Wolfe couldn’t do her job since so much focuses on her.  However, this actress was fantastic and made her torment feel authentic and frighteningly real.

                                                                                                              Warner Bros. Pictures
I don't even want to put a joke here and just once again say how great
Wolfe was.

Finally, The Conjuring 2 delivers on some decent scares.  Even when Wan brings in the predictable jump scare, his way of producing these moments makes them far more enjoyable than what most other horror films give.  While I will admit that the film never got flat out horrifying for me like the first one did, the movie still managed to raise the hairs on the back of my head and get my heart rate increasing.  

The only real downside to The Conjuring 2 is the fact that the running length may have been too long.  Never did this length bring in more depth to the characters or story and it often ended up hurting some of the creepy moments as momentum sometimes would come to a dead stop.  However, the film is still very satisfying and, without a doubt, very creepy.  Sequels are always rough because it’s hard to live up to the first one and when the first one is really great it makes that trip even more difficult.  While I don’t think this one is as amazing as the first one, I have to say that it is an excellent follow-up and it really makes me want to see James Wan come back for a third story that focuses on the investigations of the Warrens.

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