James Wan proves yet again his adeptness for scaring the sh*t out of audiences with the surprisingly decent horror sequel The Conjuring 2.
Taking the bold step of reducing the Warrens involvement in the Amityville case to a pre-title sequence, the film instead chooses to focus on the Enfield
Haunting. So the film switches location to London. You can tell it's London because a montage including black cabs, red buses and punks set to London
Calling by The Clash rather obviously tells us so. That dodgy misstep out of the way and Wan effectively introduces us to the Hodgson family and the
demonic spirit attacking youngest daughter Janet with more care and attention than most films would, so by the time the Warrens arrive to help, you're
emotionally invested in the family's situation.
The focus on character, both the family, the Warrens and the English paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse, makes a nice change from most modern horror's
tendency for disposable and usually unlikeable gore fodder. This decision is also probably one of the major reasons that the film clocks in at a lengthy
134 mins, but luckily it doesn't feel too indulgent or excessive.
Of course the jump scares are still plentiful but with Wan becoming so skilled at this kind of thing it is just as important as to where they're not placed
as to where they are. An amusing scene that sees Ed Warren start an impromptu Elvis singalong to cheer up the Hodgson kids is allowed to sit as an oasis of
calm rather than be cruelly interrupted.
Though the film doesn't entirely avoid the usual pitfalls of many horror films, that being unintentionally funny moments among the serious attempts to
scare. It's a fine line many films of its kind tread and though it is largely successful there are the occasional moments it isn't. A few involving a
demonic nun here spring to mind. On the whole though it's effective and genuinely unsettling.
An excellent cast help too. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson have settled well into their roles as the Warrens, with the love between the characters
perfectly captured amid the chaos. While young actress Madison Wolfe is impressive as the child at the centre of the haunting and Simon McBurney is very
good as Maurice Grosse.
It's arguable perhaps that the film suffers a little coming so soon after a tv mini-series based on the case (The Enfield Haunting). Especially one with
Timothy Spall as Maurice Grosse (the Warrens, who in reality only had a minor involvement in the case, didn't feature at all). Also by the climax, this
version has become a distinctly Hollywoodised depiction of events in comparison to its more grounded TV one.
These are minor niggles however and The Conjuring 2 is a mostly satisfying film and better than many horror sequels.