Written by: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan, David Leslie Johnson
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney
Even when witnessing things that feel as real as rain, convincing others of the same belief can present a challenge when it deals with the supernatural. A case plaguing a poor English family in the worthy sequel, The Conjuring 2. While not an improvement on its predecessor, it successfully builds off the established relationship of the leads and allows it to continue to blossom.
In 1976, known demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) decided to take a break from new cases from a premonition she saw. While intending to hold this promise, they hear of a family in England suffering from what they believe are disruptive spirits.
The films made with Ed and Lorraine Warren have endless potential because the couple has encountered several instances of supernatural occurrences, which could each have their own movie. These films could easily devolve into heartless sequels, much like many of the other films in its universe. However, each movie bearing the name Conjuring, has the element of love flowing beautifully throughout it. Sure, there are plenty of scares and the case has its own intrigue in trying to decipher, but once again Ed and Lorraine’s love remains squarely at the center of everything.
Much of the credit must go to Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who delightfully display the love their two characters have for each other. It feels so natural with these two, as their work revolves around helping others, which puts them at risk of untimely deaths considering they work combatting agents of the devil. The risk that endangers their lives with each case becomes real with the premonition Lorraine sees of Ed’s death. She, along with the audience, sees how he will die, which only raises the stakes of this go-around. At every turn, the demise of Ed could be at-hand but we do not know exactly when.
The greatest demonic introduction of this entire universe appears in the form of the evil nun. While the demon has its own name, I will not say it because it becomes a larger plot point in the story. However, the initial introduction to the demon along with all of the scenes where it appears solely to scare us works incredibly well. It’s set up from when Lorraine stands next to her daughter in the hallway and the young girl stares frighteningly towards something we cannot see. Lorraine looks at her daughter with concern and then turns to look to see what has spooked her. Then, we see just as Lorraine does of this pale-skinned demon in a nun habit. As we learn through the film, this demon does not represent a nun who lived but rather an entity trying to bastardize the Catholic faith by presenting evil with the appearance of a figure known for compassion and love. For those who went to Catholic school and endured the pain of being hit by the nuns, you may feel differently, but the whole idea of a demon going to these lengths in order to scare people feels so clever and rude at the same time.
Going all the way to England, this case revolves around a family being haunted by what appears to be a previous tenant of this place, but the story centers more on the validity of demons and whether they truly exist. The first Conjuring film alluded to the Warrens being questioned in regard to their practices, but this movie takes on this idea head-on, even showing a scene where Ed must debate a doubter on live television. In all fairness, it may be far-fetched for some to believe the existence of demons, especially when many of these ancient exorcisms occurred before the acknowledgment of mental health issues some folks may have. This issue runs through this entire case, especially with the Warrens attempting to collect enough evidence for the church to perform an exorcism. It definitely got a bit ridiculous at times to see just how much evidence was needed for the church to intervene, especially when witnessing what expert demonologists see occurring in the house. I’m still not sure on what side I lean on with believing the validity of everything the Warrens accomplished, but I know they make for some great stories, as this movie delivered just like its predecessor.
One tightrope this film walked happened with the number of demons that appeared. A similar issue found in superhero films where it gets far too saturated with villains for any of them to get established. The Conjuring 2 introduces the evil nun, the old man haunting the house, and the Crooked Man all in different spurts, which still works because we do not need to have any real backstory with these demons outside of the threat they pose. For those reasons, each scene where they make an appearance leaves a substantial mark because they scare in different ways. Some moments did feel like a retread from the first film, but it’s something typically occurring within sequels.
Yet another strong addition to a universe of films, which will evidently struggle in the future, The Conjuring 2 shows the excellence of James Wan once again in the horror genre. He uses the same tactics to tell this story efficiently while also having a soft touch for the Warrens as we continue to see their love absorb all of the energy on-screen. It has scares that can rival what we saw in the first film and has yet another cute family for us to feel bad for. A well-made film with most likely the scariest concept for a demon I’ve ever seen.