After the surprise success of The Conjuring from 2013, which turned out to be one of the best horror movies in recent years, a sequel was pretty much inevitable.
So in 2016 we now get The Conjuring 2 by returning director James Wan.
With Wan again at the helm and the protagonist duo of the Warrens returning, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, there sure are high hopes for The Conjuring 2. Yet at the same time, one has to keep in mind how few good horror movies got released in recent years and how even fewer good sequels got made.
This puts a lot of pressure on director James Wan, who already once failed to deliver a good sequel to one of his best horror movies, Insidious.
Does Wan manage to do the great first Conjuring movie justice with a proper sequel, or is this just yet another Exorcist knockoff?
In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) travel to London, England, where single mother Peggy Hodgson (Frances O' Connor) 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.
The Conjuring 2 starts its story appropriately enough some time after the events of the first movie and depicts another case for the now famous Warren couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Yet what makes this specific new case so special is that this time the supernatural evil entity directly threatens the Warren family itself, making this case more personal than ever to them.
Without spoiling too much, The Conjuring 2 is quite a bit more straightforward, featuring a story that greatly follows a typical The Exorcist formula and even has very familiar beats from the first Conjuring movie. Yet despite this, the movie still manages to throw in just enough twists and turns to succesfully set it apart from the first and other movies to make it a satisfying overall experience.
With the main exorcist duo, the Warrens, already established, the movie takes much more time establishing and focussing on the new Hodgson family in London and their struggle with an evil ghost in particular terrorizing the four kids in the house. While it's great that The Conjuring 2 nevertheless doesn't forget to take its time to introduce the main "victims" in the movie to the audience, The Conjuring 2 is a movie that is good horror movie entertainment that feels like it could've been better if the movie had an a bit slower pace.
With that said, even though the movie takes enough time to adress each family member of the Hodgsons and lets the viewer get to know their personality and struggles, especially the scares and mysterious happenings in the household feel like they happen just too quickly.
|"Well, that escalated quickly."|
In many cases it therefore comes down to The Conjuring 2 sometimes feeling like its impatient in getting to the actual ghost activity without really earning it. Especially in comparison to the first Conjuring movie, where the supernatural events slowly but steadily became more and more threatening, here, the activities of the ghost are straightup hostile and anything but subtle.
However, despite the obvious impatience that James Wan seems to have about finally get to the main act of actually hunting the ghost, The Conjuring 2 is still very good in providing deserved good scares. While quite a few of the scares feel very much (and sometimes even a bit too much) inspired by some key scenes from the first Conjuring, most of the really scary moments in the movie are once again very imaginative, with the appearance of a specific nun in the Warren house or the Hodgson family's ghost messing with the TV being probably the most memorable ones. What especially makes those scenes scary is that James Wan stands out as a horror director who knows how to scare the audience in unpredictable ways.
|Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.|
That being said, there surely aren't that many directors out there who can make scenes taking place in broad daylight actually be incredibly unnerving and scary - James Wan is one of those rare exceptions. And with rather simply pulled off yet incredibly effective scary scenes in The Conjuring 2, it only makes it the more puzzling that there are nevertheless a few very unfitting feeling moments where obvious CGI is used to depict the ghost. Those fake looking CGI effects-moments really will take some viewers out of the immersion of this otherwise nicely scary experience. It all only further goes to show that The Conjuring 2 definitely (just like the first movie) is at its strongest when we don't actually see the ghost, surrounding him in mystery - never knowing how the evil entity looks or when it will strike. In that sense, The Conjuring 2 shows its antagonist maybe a little bit too often.
|Once again, the movie is at its best when you actually DON'T see the ghost.|
Actress Madison Wolfe delivers without any doubt THE standout performance in The Conjuring 2.
Playing the tormented little girl Janet Hodgson that is constantly getting possessed by the antagonistic ghost, her portrayal of a terrorized innocent girl that feels used and devastated by the ghost is very convincing.
Every line is delivered very well and exactly like a little girl of her age would react to such situations. However, what really takes the cake is that Madison Wolfe manages to pull off the dramatic changes between her normal persona and the possessed ghost persona extremely well. Much like Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil back in the first Exorcist movie, without such a powerful performance of the possessed main actress, this movie would've fallen apart. Thankfully though it doesn't and thus gives audiences a both relatable as well as terrifying performance by Madison Wolfe, who surely has a bright future ahead of her.
|Madison Wolfe does fairly great as a new modern Regan.|
Furthermore, the other two main protagonists in The Conjuring 2 are of course the main heroes Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.
Even more so than in the first movie, Ed and Lorraine Warren are ridiculously charismatic and lovable. Especially since The Conjuring 2 now puts a much bigger emphasis on the relationship of the couple, the movie's story does great in taking the next step in the franchise by introducing new details about the Warrens backstory without telling us too much - it's exactly the right balance.
Especially the blend of the Warrens coming off as being very professional and confident in helping people in need, yet also caring and needing each other, is what makes this couple so irresistably awesome.
Most probably, New Line Cinema is trying to establish a "Warren Files" movie franchise, telling several more stories of the Warren couple's supernatural cases. And with such a powerful protagonist couple in the spotlight, one can clearly understand why - they're lovely, charming, relatable, cool and badass all at the same time.
|The Warrens are back at it again and as awesome as ever.|
Overall, The Conjuring 2 is a good continuation of the Conjuring franchise with just enough great scares and nice twists to make its rather straightforward Exorcist formula fueled storyline nevertheless a satisfying horror movie experience.
Despite feeling quite a bit more impatient in building up tension, featuring some familiar beats and showing off its antagonist a bit too much, there's still no denying that director James Wan is once again very confident at what he does. While surely lacking the same impact of the first movie, The Conjuring 2 is still one of the better horror movies that came out in the last years, and is a nice way to continue the Warren couple's ghost hunting stories.
Fans of the first Conjuring should definitely check out this sequel. It's yet another mostly well put together horror experience by very promising director James Wan that will make you only want to see more of the Warren duo's cases. And especially considering how few actually good horror movie sequels are out there, The Conjuring 2 even somewhat comes off as a miracle.
Here's just hoping though that Wan can then come up with more original storylines and more unique scares for future installments that don't rely on the first movie's formula as much.
Final Verdict: 6 out of 10