Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes, James Wan, David Johnson
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe, Frances O'Connor, Simon McBurney.
James Wan's hit spooker The Conjuring was a rare thing. It was a wide audience accessible horror film, it was a massive hit and a very well made film to boot. Eventually a sequel was always on the cards and The Conjuring 2 ups the ante in scares but more importantly in the writing and in the process Wan and company have come up with a film that is better than the first film in almost every way.
The film starts with a familiar prologue set in the Amityville house, here we are reintroduced to the Warrens. Ed and Lorraine are trying to find out what has happened in the house and we get introduced to Lorraine's own personal haunting. We then flip over to London and the subject of the film, the infamous Enfield Poltergeist which terrifies the Hodgson family and eventually the Warren's become involved and the investigation begins.
As I mentioned before the writing in The Conjuring 2 is very strong. You spend time with the Hodgson's, getting a feel for their situation and how the family interacts with one another. Its this time spent with the family that makes you care when bad things start happening to them. The film gives you the family moments to further enhance the stakes, even catching you off guard with a few very sweet and emotional moments. The Hodgson's aren't the only ones that get this kind of development as the Warren's also get the chance to have a few real moments in amongst the chaos, to hammer home the point that these are real people in an unreal situation. For a film that is credited with four writers it flows so well and nothing seems out of place.
To put it bluntly - James Wan directs the shit out of this film. Every shot has a purpose and they are wonderfully framed and everything (set design, colour palate) looks amazing. Wan is clearly no stranger to haunted house films and he uses every trick in the book, misdirects, double shock scares and yes these have been done before but much like The Conjuring you can forgive them because they are so expertly handled.
The acting is on point too. Wilson and Farmiga are fantastic, Wilson gets the beefy moments in this film as Farmiga did in the first film. Their chemistry is undeniable and absolutely makes the film that much better. The kids playing the Hodgson children are awesome, in particular Madison Wolfe who plays Janet - the focal point of the haunting - is outstanding. There isn't a bad performance in the film, however Franka Potente's character Anita Gregory doesn't quite get the development of the other characters and so her performance in the film seems a little one note but that is no fault of her own.
The Conjuring 2 may not have the atmosphere of the first film, perhaps because we kind of know what to expect - however the film still packs a scary punch. The Conjuring 2 works because it cares about its characters and treats the audience and the genre with respect. An outstanding film.