To many, James Wan’s 2013’s The Conjuring is right up there as one of the greatest horror efforts of the past decade. With the sequel looking to explore the infamous (and very real) ‘Enfield Poltergeist’ case of the late 1970s, the big question was whether modern horror master Wan could reach the same heights with The Conjuring 2.
For those who’ve never heard of the Enfield Poltergeist, the story centres on the supposed haunting of an Enfield home by a demonic terror. When the Hodgson family unit, particularly 11-year-old Janet (Madison Wolfe), begin to experience some disturbing happenings in their homestead, it doesn’t take long before the big guns are called in to investigate the case. And by big guns, we mean Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, reprising their roles from Wan’s original Conjuring movie). Lorraine may have recently decided that a traumatic ‘vision’ means its best that they get out of the spook game, but the Enfield case is something that the Warrens can’t let pass by.
On face value, the troubles thrust upon the Hodgsons seem to manifest themselves in having the spirit of an aggressive, abusive old man possess Janet, all whilst taking great pleasure in taunting the family as a whole as it explains how it loves to hear their screams. Creepy, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not. For you see, as with the very real Enfield case, The Conjuring 2 takes the slant that maybe all is not quite as it seems, and that this haunting could well just be a case of a troubled teenage girl seeking some attention or making a cry for help.
To veer any further into plot details would lead us into spoiler territory, so we’ll stop there. There’s plenty more to The Conjuring 2 than its plot, though. As the returning Warrens, the duo of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are again superb in both how their characters operate on a singular level and also in how they wonderfully play off each other as a strong, reliant team. Where the Hodgsons are concerned, all involved do an admirable job, even if the accents sometimes go and little too ‘apples and pears’ for our liking. For so much of the film, Madison Wolfe’s Janet is the focal point, and the young actress, along with Lauren Esposito as elder sister Margaret, marks herself out as a talent to keep an eye on. Then there’s Frances O’Connor as the single mother trying to make sense of all of these horrors whilst also struggling to juggle the responsibilities of being a solo parent attempting to do the job of both mother and father.
Much like The Conjuring, this sequel has far more heart than would often be associated with many a modern horror. In fact, in the use of the Warrens, certain aspects of the film have the feel of a love story that just so happens to be enveloped in a supernatural setting. And key to making you actually care about this are the aforementioned performances of Wilson and Farmiga. That’s not to say that it’s not very much a horror movie though, and fans of the genre will find some fantastic scares here as Wan once again expertly manipulates the characters and his script to deliver tense, taut situations that will have you nudging ever-closer to the edge of your seat. Sure, there are certain early scares that feel a tad as if they’ve been seen and done before in the film’s predecessor, but that’s all forgiven as the movie progresses and delivers one of the year’s very best terror-filled tales. And yes, for those wondering, it's obviously far superior to the BBC's 1992 Ghostwatch...
The Conjuring 2 may not be quite at the flawless standard of Wan’s 2013 original, and some well-versed in the real life Enfield Poltergeist may pick a few holes in how the story slightly differs from the real happenings at times – which is something to be expected from such a feature – but again James Wan has given us a remarkable horror film that once more exemplifies why he’s at the forefront of modern horror.
Special Features: Five featurettes / Deleted scenes
THE CONJURING 2: THE ENFIELD CASE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JAMES WAN / SCREENPLAY: CAREY HAYES, CHAD HAYES, JAMES WAN, DAVID LESLIE JOHNSON / STARRING: PATRICK WILSON, VERA FARMIGA, MADISON WOLFE, FRANCES O’CONNOR, LAUREN ESPOSITO, BENJAMIN HAIGH, PATRICK MCAULEY / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 17TH