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The Conjuring 2 Blu-ray Review

The Conjuring 2 (2016) movie poster The Conjuring 2

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

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

Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) journey to England to help a family 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 Chad and Carey 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.

Young Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe) is the principal target of the demon in "The Conjuring 2."

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. Expectedly, the reputation yielded a solid opening weekend turnout for this sequel. Buoyed by favorable reviews and screenings, Conjuring 2 became 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. Though it fell significantly short of its predecessor's numbers domestically, it still crossed the $100 million mark domestically and the $300 million mark worldwide.

Despite the commercial success, Warner Bros. treats the film to an increasingly common single-disc Blu-ray in lieu of the combo pack they long favored.

The Conjuring 2 Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($28.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Naturally, The Conjuring 2 looks terrific on Blu-ray. The stylized visuals are sharp and clean. Even better is the Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack, which distributes atmospheric effects, score, and dialogue with precision and potency.

The real Lorraine Warren reconnects with the real Hodgson girls on "The Conjuring 2" set in "The Enfield Poltergeist." The Crooked Man comes to life in "Creating Crooked."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Conjuring 2's all-HD Blu-ray extras begin with "Crafting The Conjuring 2" (10:09),
a general making-of featurette that runs through the different creative and technical considerations of this production.

"The Enfield Poltergeist: Living in the Horror" (12:46) revisits the real case with new comments from the real Lorraine Warren, Hodgson children and photographer Graham Morris as well as thoughts from the filmmakers. The highlight of the piece is Warren's reunion with the Hodgsons on the set of the film.

"Creating Crooked" (6:44) looks at the creation of the Crooked Man zoetrope character and the make-up effects needed to bring him to life in his 7-foot splendor.

Composer Joseph Bishara leads the orchestra recording his score in "The Conjuring 2: Hollywood's Haunted Stage." Janet (Madison Wolfe) is branded a witch and taunted at school in this deleted scene.

"The Conjuring 2: Hollywood's Haunted Stage" (5:08) lets a security guard
explore the set to see if there are any demons lurking around the filming. It's silly.

"The Sounds of Scary" (7:00) turns our attention to the film's score, with comments from Joseph Bishara and his musicians, looks at the orchestra recording, and clips showing off the music in the finished film.

Finally, we get a reel of four deleted scenes (6:31). They offer Peggy being startled on her own, Janet being called a witch and taunted by classmates, Peggy talking to the Warrens, and a roundtable analysis of a demon tape recording.

The disc opens with a Lights Out trailer and a 4K Ultra HD promo.

The basic menu attaches score to a static adaptation of a poster design.

The unslipcovered eco-friendly keepcase holds an insert supplying your Digital HD with UltraViolet code and advertising 4K Ultra HD.

'Tis the season for Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) to get corny dancing by the Christmas tree.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Conjuring 2 plays a lot like its predecessor, but lacks the impact of originality. As far as horror movies go, you could do so much worse than this sequel, but in terms of cinema at large, it's a fairly middling effort. Warner's Blu-ray scores high marks for picture and sound and a passing grade for extras. Still, it may not be a movie you feel compelled to see more than once.

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 Insidious Insidious: Chapter 2
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Vera Farmiga: Orphan Bates Motel: Season One The Judge At Middleton | Frances O'Connor: Jayne Mansfield's Car
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Reviewed September 13, 2016.



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