Horror movies should do what they are invented for, which is to scare. While people claim they hate being scared, they still flock to these films because of an innate curiosity. The tension of waiting for the big fright becomes part of the ghoulish fun.
The most effective scary films have built on an abundance of mood rather than gore. The Conjuring 2 fits this mould perfectly. It provides a scary experience that crafts a spooky atmosphere sure to chill the sturdiest of hearts.
In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) travel to London for their latest assignment. Meeting single mother Peggy (Francis O’Connor), they hear claims of an evil spirit in her house. When her daughter shows sign of being possessed by the sinister entity, Ed and Lorraine are put through their paces. Their stoic strength is shaken when they become the target of the pure evil lurking in the shadows, drawing them to their doom.
The Conjuring 2 is an effective shocker making use of its limited budget. Pyrotechnics are not needed to generate scares but rather, a talented production crew who know where the right moments are to spook an audience. Director James Wan, a self-confessed horror fan, realises this and uses shadows and lighting to excellent effect. He perfectly captures the feeling of pure dread films such as The Exorcist and The Omen. The period setting goes some way in helping to encapsulate the best low-tech horror movies by keeping it simple.
Adding to the creepy enjoyment is the engaging script. With sceptics and police preventing them from doing their jobs, Ed and Lorraine have their work cut out. They also have to deal with personal issues adding another intriguing layer to the central premise. With such a good cast, it’s easy following their odyssey, with each performer never over-playing their roles. The bewitching score and cinematography effectively underscore the heightened realism The Conjuring 2 sets out to provide.
The Conjuring 2 is a more than decent genre entry. A relief after so many over-blown horror films, it maintains a brisk pace without going overboard. A third outing wouldn’t be unwelcome and it will be interesting seeing where Wan takes his characters as they further chart unknown waters.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 8