Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review: The Conjuring 2

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
Directed by: James Wan
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours 14 minutes

I've shortly expressed my love for James Wan and hopefully one day, I'll express a little bit more of that love to you guys. Nonetheless, it's probably no surprise that I was going to see this movie, because I loved The Conjuring so much. Hopefully, Ophelia will feel the same when she gets around to seeing it herself.

In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to London, England, where single mother Peggy Hodgson believes that something evil is in her home. When Peggy's youngest daughter starts showing signs of demonic possession, Ed and Lorraine attempt to help the besieged girl, only to find themselves targeted by the malicious spirits. [Source: IMDb]

After the success of The Conjuring and Insidious: Chapter 2, I heard this absurd announcement from Mr. Wan that he would be stepping away from horror and pursuing other genres by starting with Furious 7. While I'm all for exploring your skills, as it's something I plan on doing with my own work, I feared that I would never see that passion and care that I fell in with ever again. James Wan was the first director in this new generation of horror to restore my faith in the genre. It gave me hope and inspiration! When I saw that he was returning for a sequel, I was beyond excited! Once it was released in theaters, it was mandatory for me to see this as soon as possible. So, what did I think of this second installment?

Similar to The Conjuring, we get a nice, short introduction story that somewhat leads to the main plot that we'll be following more thoroughly. In the first movie, we were introduced to Annabelle and in the second, we get a sample of the Amityville murders. Now, I remember hearing that this movie would be covering Amityville and had a tiny concern that it would be focusing its story on that. While I wouldn't mind seeing Wan's take on it, I would've preferred to take my own time to watch the movie that already exists I've actually never seen it. Fortunately, the movie focuses on a similar case with the Hodgson family in London. The story did a fantastic job tying in both of these small and large plots together and developing them to an effective resolution for our characters. While Amityville caused Lorraine to rethink her "gift" and relationship with her family, the Hodgsons reminded her that her abilities could be used for comfort and security for not only their clients but for herself. The story also does a great job of balancing the internal dilemma Lorraine is dealing with her profession and fame with her husband and the paranormal situation the Hodgson family is dealing with. The pacing remains steady and every moment of suspense usually leads to a satisfying payoff. In short, Mr. Wan does not hold back with his storytelling and effective and pleasing visuals. There's plenty of great suspenseful moments that kept me on the edge of my seat just waiting for something to happen. There were some pretty good scares that both made me hide a little in my nachos or amused me.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson's chemistry remain intact from the first installment. Watching them work together is very endearing and I love watching them work together on a case. Ed is very supportive of his wife and doesn't pressure her to do anything that makes her feel stressed or uncomfortable. He constantly offers to back out of the Hodgson case and also offers himself to take some of the burden off her shoulders with his own abilities. Lorraine doesn't try to hide her weakness and when she tries to brush it off or ignore it, eventually she does either confront it herself or open up to her husband. She also tries to maintain the balance of their partnership, while genuinely making a connection with the Hodgson children. The Hodgson family was quite enjoyable to watch as well. I believe they reacted surprisingly logically. They did fall into the usual cliches from time to time that makes you want to yell at them, but for the most part, they got out the house, tried to find help, and overall resolve their unusual situation. The supporting characters also moved the story along as much as our main cast of characters. The Hodgson's neighbors were very helpful and expressed genuine care for their situation and the people helping the Warrens with deciphering whether the case was real or not presented a realistic conflict of interest.

As much as I loved this movie to tears, I can admit that there were some flaws or things I didn't enjoy. Since I finally made time to watch all three installments of Insidious, which I have in queue to review, there were moments that felt more like an Insidious movie than a Conjuring one. There were similar techniques and visuals that I kinda remember from the first chapter that I think appear with Lorraine and the nun. Somewhere toward the end seemed to fall apart in quality, but it didn't completely ruin the flow of the story. Sure, it dragged a little bit, but for the most part, I was still very invested in the Warrens' case and I wanted the Hodgson family to find some peace in their home with each other. Lastly, certain elements that dealt with the demonic being were slightly disappointing or just kinda random. Tiny gripe from a Degrassi fan, but I wish there was more Shannon Kook.

Nonetheless, The Conjuring 2 thoroughly satisfied my hunger for inspirational horror. James Wan hasn't lost his touch for providing an immersive universe with likable characters and super effective suspense. The visuals were eerie and appropriate and the soundtrack complimented every visual piece presented to us. While I wish a scene or two were cut a bit shorter and the blur of Insidious elements didn't leak into this story, I still found myself enjoying this roller coaster ride of paranormal, religion, and, I have to say it, relationship goals. I'm looking forward to owning this one and rewatching it along with the first movie. I really hope that James Wan doesn't stray too far from horror, because he's really good at it. Since reading it on Wikipedia, I am curious what they have in store for The Nun, which is a spin-off to this movie similar to Annabelle. Although, I think this spin-off is unnecessary, I'll most likely check it out anyway.

Rating: 4/5

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