director James Wan
viewed: 06/15/2016 at Regal Manchester Stadium 16, Fresno, CA
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are back as real-life demonologists wife and husband Lorraine and Ed Warren, this time checking out one of Britain’s most notorious cases of the supernatural. Like The Conjuring (2013), this is brought to us by director James Wan and is lifted from the case files of the Warrens, who in all sincerity believe in the events that they witnessed and documented.
But The Conjuring 2 is just not as good as its forebear.
Farmiga and Wilson are good, but Wan seems to lean on tired and unsurprising horror tropes, relying on musical set-ups (whinnying violins for tension, crash booms for jump-scares). And then there is the demon itself, Valak, a gothed-out figure in a nun’s habit that looks like something from the back of a 1990’s CD.
This is all fleshed-out from real-life events, and I think that might be part of the problem. As far as I know, no one has ever been killed by a ghost or a demon, so you know that nobody is going to die. That’s not to say that there isn’t an interesting story at the core here. As I noted about the story that led to the film A Haunting in Connecticut (2009) (a non-Warren-related story of a family experiencing paranormal events), the real stories of these families who experienced such wild things are often families in crisis, with perhaps a far more interesting and disturbing reality behind the strange tales that terrorized them. But if you take the horror at face-value, that demons or poltergeists are real, as these films typically do, you wind up with a story of scary weirdness, in which no one dies, and you’re left questioning the facts and believability.
The rest of the group I saw this with I think thought it was better than I did.