Caught an early preview showing of The Conjuring 2, the sequel to 2013’s surprise hit horror flick about Ed and Loraine Warren, real life ghost hunters most famous for investigating the Amityville spook house. The Conjuring was a better-than-average spook house flick so I was hoping for a good follow-up. And I’ll say this with confidence, this sequel is as generic a haunt house movie as you can get except in that it’s actually very well made and pretty effective at generating tension and a feeling of creeping dread.
This movie starts at the end of the Amityville Horror investigation and shows some of the skepticism people had for that dubious story. It then jumps to Enfield, England – apparently as famous a haunting as 1977 is gonna give us. They say it’s the most documented haunting ever… Well, I guess if they say so, it must be true!
Regardless of the validity of the story its based on, I think this movie will genuinely scare folks. I’d also say that, if the movie had ended after the first hour, it’d be at the top of the list of horror flicks but it had to go on for another hour. While there was some good stuff in that second half, it couldn’t hold onto that tension the first hour built. And, by the end, some of the paranormal activity got a little hokey.
That said, the movie had the confidence (and likely the lack of studio interference) to be just as much about the loving relationship between our married ghost hunters as it was about the ghosts. Their relationship felt real and loving and was capped by an interlude of Fools Rush In by Elvis. Not too many horror movies these days would have bothered but it was immensely charming and it worked for the characters.
When I say the movie is a generic haunted house film, I largely mean it. If you’ve seen more than a handful of spook house flicks, there’s nothing surprising from a story or moment-to-moment boo basis. Hell, the ghost at one point admits that its messing with the family because it likes to hear them scream. Finally, a ghost confesses! But what works so well in this movie is the director knows how to level on the tension and hold the jump scares to a minimum. And, to be fair, there are more than a handful of moments that, under a different writer or director, would have lead to a cheap or super predictable scare… this movie avoided those easy targets.
Acting-wise, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson do their usual good job. These are two good actors who are usually better than the material they are in. But a special shout out to a young actress named Madison Wolfe who plays the most haunted of the kids in the house. She’s pretty stellar. The rest of the cast is fine too. This may not be a high budget film, but they didn’t skimp on getting actors who can pull this material of.
So, yeah, if you at all like a good horror movie (without much gore), then this is a pretty solid one. It doesn’t hold up all the way through but when it’s on its game, it’s really solid. And the last act is still pretty good. I wouldn’t mind a part 3 (though the movie does remind us that it’s the source of the mediocre Annabelle haunted doll movie… ugh).