Those who saw the first The Conjuring film back in 2013 will know the eerie effect it had. It was old-school scare tactics, much more about psychological effects than reliant on lots of latter-day special effects.
Far more sinister – and like horrors before it, such as Poltergeist (1982), those in the know of ‘strange happenings’ occurring to The Conjuring’s cast and crew during filming will also be curious about watching the second installment, especially as this is based on the infamous, real-life Enfield Poltergeist haunting of the late Seventies.
The Conjuring 2 incorporates exactly the same scare tactics as the previous film, once you get past the amusing ‘mockney’ tones of the North London family as it is first established at the start.
Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) have possibly gone too far investigating the spirit world, after the former foresees her husband’s demise. They decide to stop their paranormal investigations for the sake of their family and marriage.
However, one English family, The Hodgsons, in Enfield, North London, desperately needs their help, after its youngest daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe) becomes possessed by the spirit of a former resident – and maybe something more sinister. The Warrens realise there’s a link to their suffering and this family’s, and decide to help them.
The casting, from returnees Farmiga and Wilson, to young Wolfe, is faultless, and the stars of the first film give the same alluring performances and convincing on-screen relationship that you feel you’re in familiar and capable hands, even before the scares really take hold.
The same key writing-directing team returns, knowing the material inside out – and it shows. Although the setting is in a different part of the world, links to the first film are well versed and connected. Writer-director James Wan also performs his superior malevolent magic to disorientate you as soon as you become complacent, ramping up the tension when very little is actually happening at that moment in time. None of the occurrences are in any way new to the genre. However, the storytelling is excellent.
The film’s production value is also great, recreating that same ‘distressed’ cinematic palette as the first, and making the environment as chilling and alien as possible. This ties in nicely with recreating the time period of the 70s too.
The Conjuring 2 is just as powerful at the first film, possibly because of the catch-all ‘based on a true story’ promise. Even so, without the same team behind this one as with the first, this could have fallen flat. Instead, it’s a fitting sequel, full of scares, which also works well as an introduction to the franchise for the uninitiated because we’re taken away from the Amityville, US setting. It’s another must-see for retro-horror fans.