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The Conjuring 2 Movie Review

The Conjuring 2 Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art
The Conjuring 2 is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray.

The Conjuring 2 (2016) movie poster The Conjuring 2

Theatrical Release: June 10, 2016 / Running Time: 134 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: James Wan / Writers: Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes (screenplay, story & characters); James Wan (screenplay & story); David Johnson (screenplay)

Cast: Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren), Madison Wolfe (Janet Hodgson), Frances O'Connor (Peggy Hodgson), Lauren Esposito (Margaret Hodgson), Benjamin Haigh (Billy Hodgson), Patrick McAuley (Johnny Hodgson), Simon McBurney (Maurice Grosse), Maria Doyle Kennedy (Peggy Nottingham), Simon Delaney (Vic Nottingham), Franka Potente (Anita Gregory), Bob Adrian (Bill Wilkins), Robin Atkin Downes (Demon Voice), Bonnie Aarons (Demon Nun), Javier Botet (Crooked Man), Steve Coulter (Father Gordon), Abhi Sinha (Harry Whitmark), Chris Royds (Graham Morris), Sterling Jerins (Judy Warren), Daniel Wolfe (Kent Allen), Annie Young (Constable Heeps), Elliot Joseph (Constable Peterson)

Buy The Conjuring 2 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD Instant Video

There was bound to be a sequel for one of the best-reviewed and best-attended horror movies of the 21st century. The Conjuring 2 arrives three summers after its predecessor impressed critics and
moviegoers alike with its true story of a family's haunting. James Wan, who passed on directing the Saw sequels but did stay on for Insidious: Chapter 2, returns to the helm with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga again playing real life paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren.

We open in 1976 with the Warrens having attracted both fame and skepticism for their high-profile work on a haunted house in Amityville, New York. That case, which spawned a series of horror films beginning in 1979, is glimpsed at as a prologue, but Conjuring 2 proceeds to dramatize a different true story that followed. In Enfield, England, a divorced mother (Frances O'Connor) and her four children begin experiencing some disturbances. Most affected by this is Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe), the family's 11-year-old daughter, who has been prone to sleepwalking bouts. She apparently soon comes to be possessed by the spirit of one Bill Wilkins, the 72-year-old man who lived and died in the home before they moved in. He speaks through the girl in his menacing old man voice and does ghostly things like slide dressers across the room.

The Hodgsons of Enfield, England (Frances O'Connor, Madison Wolfe, and Lauren Esposito) needs help from paranormal disturbance in "The Conjuring 2."

The Hodgson family soon moves in with their neighbors across the street, but word gets back to America. The Catholic Church is not ready to get involved in the case, without first sending over the Warrens to eliminate the possibility of a hoax. Committed to helping others, the couple heads to England in spite of Lorraine's troubling premonitions of her husband's death in conjunction with a demon they both have been seeing who resembles Marilyn Manson in nun garb. Joining the Warrens in observation is Maurice Grosse (Simon McBurney), a man excited by the prospect of confirming a world beyond this, and a professional skeptic (Franka Potente).

Director/co-writer Wan, returning scribes/twins Carey and Chad Hayes, and new to the franchise David Leslie Johnson (Orphan, Wrath of the Titans) come up with ways to unsettle audiences who have been exposed to this kind of paranormal horror again and again in recent years. They have some success, exploiting both Sister Marilyn Manson and the cranky old codger we begin to see (Bob Adrian). The film doles out a touch of atmosphere; a montage set to The Clash's "London Calling" establishes '70s UK as the primary setting and a few on-the-nose period tunes and pre-teen girl bedroom wall pictures reinforce the era.

They're back! Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are enlisted by the Catholic Church to investigate the Hodgsons' claims.

The sequel also tries to recapture an element that distinguished the original film: heart, not something frequently encountered in this genre. Efforts are taken to make the Warrens a portrait of a happy, healthy marriage and of good people of faith. Separately, each investigator bonds with Janet. Ed also gets to fix a sink and pull out a guitar to sing some Elvis Presley for the Hodgsons. Such material is a touch corny, but preferable to the irony-laden doom, gloom and splatter most horror films like to pile on these days.

While the plot and setting distance Conjuring 2 from the first film, the overall experience is not dramatically different (nor should it be). That is to say in a universe where The Conjuring did not exist, The Conjuring 2 would seem pretty special. In this universe, it's a sequel that has put real thought into crafting scares in addition to paying homage to a real couple and their real experiences.
The end credits' photographs show that Wan and company have tried to stay as true to the circumstances documented as possible (though with actors who are easier on the eyes, of course), while still leaving enough room for embellishment that entails a "based on characters created by" credit.

Many of the many who saw the first Conjuring seemed to like it a lot, as evidenced by a highly respectable 7.5 IMDb user rating that puts to shame the scores of more critically acclaimed indie horror films like The Babadook, It Follows, and The Witch. As a result, you can expect a solid opening weekend turnout for this sequel. While a big bump like the one that the second Insidious experienced seems impossible given how well the first Conjuring opened, the modestly-budgeted sequel, which has been receiving favorable reviews and screenings, is likely to become Warner Bros. Pictures' first big hit of the year, having few of the expenses and none of the baggage that hung over Batman v Superman.

Buy The Conjuring 2 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Directed by James Wan: The Conjuring The Conjuring 2 Insidious Insidious: Chapter 2
Now in Theaters: Now You See Me 2 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping The Nice Guys Me Before You
Patrick Wilson: Bone Tomahawk Space Station 76 Morning Glory Young Adult The Switch
Vera Farmiga: Orphan Bates Motel: Season One The Judge At Middleton | Frances O'Connor: Jayne Mansfield's Car
Annabelle The Witch It Follows The Ring

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Reviewed June 7, 2016.



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