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The Conjuring 2
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The Conjuring 2 (2014)

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Plot Summary:
"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."


Review by
Ryan McDonald
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@horrorasylum
Review Date: 02 June 2017 My Rating: out of 5

 

70s London: Single mother Frances O’Connor is helpless when her daughter (Madison Wolfe) appears to be possessed by a demon. Enter the Warrens (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) all the way from America to get to the bottom of things.

I gave the first “Conjuring” a mildly favourable review, but I felt it completely undercut any tension or terror with its split narrative. Every cut-away to the Warrens before they were properly integrated into the main story worked against the purpose of a horror film. The individual scenes were all well-done, it just wasn’t as effective as it could’ve been had there been a more linear narrative. Well, here’s the 2016 sequel from director/co-writer James Wan (“Saw”, “Insidious”, “The Conjuring”) and damn it, no one has learned a thing. And that’s a shame.

I liked some of this a lot more than the first film, but because it suffers from the same issues and it’s the second time around, I have to be much tougher on it. The fact that it’s more than 2 hours long doesn’t help, either. Also not helping things is the film’s dubious prologue. By dubious I mean that it’s set in 1976 and presents us with a very familiar house and a very familiar BS story: The Lutz family’s time in the Amityville house. We all now know that the Lutz’s were con artists, and while it’s just used as a prologue here, it’s still a film that associates itself with a bullshit story for a film about two real-life people whose exploits are already rather questionable. So I was immediately put offside by the film.

Thankfully, things eventually move to the UK, with a rather clichéd use of The Clash’s ‘London Calling’, but also with the lovely roving camerawork of Don Burgess immediately impressing and putting the audience at a certain discomfort. The low-level lighting is really nice, too. Having such young protagonists is a nice change too, and I was primed for a good scary movie. Well, there was the issue of one very poor piece of casting to contend with: Aussie actress Frances O’Connor is a surprisingly appalling detriment to the film with her completely unconvincing attempt at a lower-class English accent. She comes off like a Sally Hawkins impersonator, and the real thing is already irritating enough. Wan really needed to reign O’Connor in because she’s laughably bad. Still, for the most part I found myself getting excited, thinking they were going to improve upon the promise shown in the first film. Nope, not really.

After 15 minutes the narrative gets broken up and all the good work in the build-up gets undone. Can’t the filmmakers see this is a problem? The scenes of the Warrens early on aren’t even necessary. Just bring them in when they get called in. That and adding the case of the Lutz’s and some sceptics merely serves to highlight the dubious nature of what we’re being presented. You’re killing the validity of your own film. You’re supposed to suck me in for a couple of hours before I realise it’s just a movie. It’s a shame because this story, being that it revolves around a young girl is more disturbing than the one in the original. This is so damn frustrating. There’s good stuff in this that could’ve lead to something really, really good. There’s just too many cutaways and structurally/thematically it’s a re-tread of the first film. The kids are terrific, Vera Farmiga is perfectly fine, and the film works in fits and starts. That’s kind of the problem, though. It’s well-shot, but poorly scripted, structured, and paced. Cut it down to 90-100 minutes and throw the Warrens into the main storyline a lot quicker and you might’ve actually had something here.

OVERALL SUMMARY
There was potential here for an even scarier film than the original. Unfortunately, all of the same problems reoccur here and it's far less forgivable this time. So it ends up being the weaker film. A comically bad performance by Frances O'Connor, the inclusion of the debunked Amityville case, and distracting clichéd British pop tunes doesn't help either. The two young girls are terrific, though.



Reviewer: Richard Mansfield @MansfieldDark
Location:London, UK
Review Date: 16 July 2016 My Rating: out of 5

After enjoying the first Conjuring I headed to my local multiplex to see the hotly anticipated and very well reviewed sequel 'The Conjuring 2'. The first film dealt with paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren taking on the case of the Perron family as they dealt with the troubled family in Rhode Island. In the sequel the Warrens end up coming to England’s Enfield to tackle the Enfield Poltergeist, famous for terrorising the Hodgson family in the late 1970s.

First off I’m a big James Wan fan. I love ‘Insidious’, ‘The Conjuring’ and even ‘Dead Silence’so I was pretty excited the sequel was getting rave reviews. I have to say I was pretty disappointed. It’s not that ‘The Conjuring 2’ is a bad film; it just isn’t a particularly good one. I think my main issue with it was that it felt completely false. The original had a sense of reality about it. The locations felt real and atmospheric. In Enfield everything clearly looks like a set, aged with damp and mould overkill. I’d say it is pretty suspenseful but most of the scary bits are all jump/startle scares that are in most cases deafening and quite forgettable. Although all the entities are real actors there are some really nasty CGI enhancements particularly to the demon Nun who has some really ropey roaring-mouth-teeth-rubbish going on. Apparently her scenes were filmed in March this year only 3 months before therelease. The Nun replaced a previously filmed ‘red-eyed demon’. It would be interesting to see what the original demon was like. The nun is reported to have her own spinoff film (Like Annabelle)entitled ‘The Nun’. There is also the Babadook-a-like Crooked Man who inhabits a haunted musical toy but like the other spectres, his appearances are completely bombastic and raise very few chills.

The acting across the board is decent but falls prey to a clunky script littered with obvious exposition and English cockney stereotypes, ‘Gor blimey guvnor’ etc. Madison Wolfe playing Janet is great and natural despite her false crooked teeth. Her scenes with Farmiga are moving and tense and show the potential for a much more subtle and creepier approach to the story that could have been made.

The Warrens reportedly only visited Enfield for one day (uninvited) so a lot of the story elements from the actual case have been borrowed from other real life characters. Wan’s narrative paints the Warrens as the heroes determined to save the day. I’m not asking for accuracy in a Hollywood version, particularly one that adds Crooked Men and Demon Nuns but it does seem a little bit cheeky.

Before seeing the film I watched some of the original real-life family interviews on YouTube and the production team have done a very good job recreating the details form the original footage from the clothing, casting similar looking actors in some of the more minor roles. Even the Purdey (Joanna Lumley in the New Avengers) poster hangs on Janet’s bedroom wall which I thought was a nice touch.

What ‘The Conjuring 2’ does have going for it is two highly likeable leads. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are very charismatic and work well together. The opening scenes which take place in the Amityville murder house are cleverly filmed with Lorraine creepily experiencing the original crime before the famous haunting commenced my favourite part of the film.

I’m clearly in a minority and many seemed to have loved the film so maybe you’ll get a kick out of the fairground jolts but for me this ranks alongside ‘Insidious Chapter 2’ as a bloated and messy sequel that throws everything including the kitchen sink at the screen with very few genuine chills

OVERALL SUMMARY
Abloated and messy sequel with some enjoyable moments and a lot of loud bangs.




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