I have come to expect innovation and energy from James Wan, the director of films like “Insidious,” as well as a mastery of sound, mood and cinematography. With these expectations in mind, I was excited to see where he would take us with his newest film, “The Conjuring 2.”
“The Conjuring 2” begins with paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren on the cusp of their now infamous case, Amityville. After gaining fame for all the wrong reasons and seeing some terrifying activity, they decide to take a break from their investigations. Meanwhile, in England, a family of five, the Hodgsons, are being tormented by a malevolent poltergeist at night and struggle to maintain their sanity by day. Hearing about the case, the Warrens travel to England as agents of the church to see if they can substantiate the claims. However, they get more than they bargained for.
The film gets a lot right — the music, set designs and lighting are on point throughout. Wan maintains an eeriness the entire time and builds on this feeling even during the daylight segments, ensuring the night scares have big impact. The bluish hue that envelops each moment creates a deathlike coldness. Wan does some wonderful experimentation with camera work. He uses a lot of unique over-the-shoulder techniques as well as fast-moving shots to capture feelings voyeurism and to visually put you off balance.
“The Conjuring 2” doesn’t rely on jump-scare tactics. Instead, it uses prolonged exposure to dread and atmosphere. The ghosts and demons are hit and miss. There is too much going on and not enough of an emphasis on one main boogeyman, making all of them feel like they missed their full potential.
The creature designs, for the most part, are well done and scary. They are not overly complicated and shine in their simplistic terror. I had some issue with the way the possession part of the film is handled. It feels too forced to be as good as “The Exorcist” or “The Possession.”
Overall, the movie is a decent installment to the franchise, despite a rather formulaic plot. It’s an innovative and refreshing addition to the horror genre.