The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case (2016) Review

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case (2016)

Directed by James Wan

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This is the sequel to the 2013 film The Conjuring, with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles as paranormal investigators and authors Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film follows the Warrens as they travel to the United Kingdom to assist the Hodgson family, who are experiencing poltergeist activity at their Enfield council house in 1977.

My Opinion:

I thought The Conjuring (number 1) was really good as far as modern horror movies go. I gave it a very positive review (HERE). Thinking back on it now, I’d still say it was a really good modern horror but I probably rated it a little too highly. I think at the time that I was just SO happy to finally get a horror movie that didn’t totally suck since most of them do nowadays. But then The Babadook came along…. Now there’s a damn good modern horror! That one made me realize that it is indeed possible for post-1984 horror movies to actually not suck. The Conjuring (number 1) was a step in the right direction, however. Too bad The Conjuring (number 2) takes a step back.

First of all, I know nothing about the actual facts of the Enfield haunting case so I won’t be discussing how accurate this movie may or may not be. I do love a good haunting and/or possession movie (especially when “true”) so I did enjoy the overall story here. It’s very similar to the first film (storywise) so I think you’d probably be interested in at least checking this one out at home at some point if you really liked the first one.

However, this one fails in many ways that the first movie didn’t… This sequel falls back into the James Wan trap of showing us too much for too long, just like all the laughable shit in Insidious. Sorry, but a Marilyn Manson-looking nun just isn’t scary to me! Sorry for a slight spoiler there (there’s a nun in this who looks like Marilyn Manson and you see her a lot). No. Less is more, horror-movie-makers! Why do you keep doing this? Mystery is scary. The things we don’t see or only just glimpse are scary. That bit with the sheet in the wind in the first film was pretty scary and unexpected! I can’t say that I really found anything even a little unsettling in this one. This was one of those movies where I just steeled myself for the predictable jump scares. Because I’m a jumpy person! But jump scares are cheap & they’re temporary. I think I’d probably have been more creeped out if I had just read about the real case instead (I may look into it now).

This film also didn’t seem to try as hard to get the right look, which worked so well in the first movie. It felt like it was genuinely set in the Seventies before whereas the sequel felt more like, well, a movie made in 2016 with funny clothing. I don’t know if maybe the first movie was filmed in a different way that gave it the correct look? I know nothing about filmmaking – I just know that the first movie looked “right” to me. And it had a great atmosphere that this one doesn’t quite manage (again, this is mainly down to “seeing too much”).

Okay – I’m sounding way too negative! This film isn’t awful – it’s just disappointing after the first film. I just wanted more of the same again instead of it veering slightly into Insidious territory. But it’s certainly not as bad as Insidious or that pathetic Conjuring spin-off Annabelle. It does start out promising with your standard haunted house movie stuff that is predictable but that I like (scary noises, creepy toys, etc) and I have no complaints as far as the acting goes – everyone did a solid job, including the young actress (Madison Wolfe). Unfortunately, the actors were let down by some very schmaltzy moments and a final half that loses its way just like so many other modern horror films seem to. The Conjuring 2 isn’t a bad horror movie – it’s just yet another fairly forgettable one. Which is a shame as I didn’t feel that way about the first film. 

My Rating: 6/10

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The Conjuring (2013) Review

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The Conjuring

Directed by James Wan

Starring:
Vera Farmiga
Patrick Wilson
Ron Livingston
Lili Taylor

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

This “based on a true story” movie follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) as they investigate mysterious supernatural occurrences at the home of the Perron family (parents played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor).

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My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this film. I rarely watch horror movies anymore as they seem to have turned into nothing but the torture porn variety that I can’t stand. Give me either a good old fashioned 70s & 80s slasher with cheesy special effects I can actually handle or a creepy old-school supernatural thriller. The Conjuring, I’m happy to say, comes pretty close to feeling like a genuine 70s supernatural thriller.

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The Conjuring opens with the Warrens showing us a previous case they worked on where a doll had become possessed. Dolls freak me out. Dolls freak a lot of people out and the makers of The Conjuring clearly know this. They take as many horror movie cliches as they can and throw them all at us. But all horror movies do this anyway. The Conjuring at least manages to use every trick in the book in a few fairly original & effective ways. (To be honest, the doll was too over-the-top freaky. The music box was more subtle & far creepier… )

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The Conjuring takes place in the 70s, which helps add to the overall creepiness. I’m a sucker for 70s films so that will have helped my enjoyment of this.The clothes! The cars! The 70s were so groovy! (From what I remember of the decade as I spent the latter part of it watching Sesame Street). So I really liked the look of the film. It’s no The Shining as far as the look and feel go (can anything really beat that one?!). But I appreciate the effort they put into making this feel more like a good old-school haunted house movie.

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Did The Conjuring scare me? I know that’s the main question people seem to be asking. Well, I can’t really think of a movie that ever HAS scared me. There are some that give me the heebie jeebies a little bit. The one I just mentioned, The Shining, is probably the film I find the creepiest and comes the closest to “scaring” me. The Conjuring didn’t scare me, no, but had I seen it for the first time alone & in the middle of the night, I’m pretty sure I’d have slept with the lights on.

It’s fairly intense and that tired old “based on a true story” thing DOES seep into your brain whether you believe it or not – that’s why so many horror movies use that line. (I’ve not yet looked into the true story of the Warrens & Perron family so can’t comment on how true this film actually is). I was a little bit jumpy through the film but, as always, you know when the scares are coming. The film also shows us more of the “ghostly visitors” than I was expecting but I know they need to keep things balanced as the younger cinema goers expect that these days. I’ve always been someone who’s been more scared by the things we don’t actually see. However, I think The Conjuring strikes a decent balance at trying to keep the old-school supernatural horror fans like me and the current generation of fans happy.

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The number one reason that I think makes this film stand out so much compared to other horror films of recent years, though, is this: The acting (particularly the two female leads). Too many current horror films are full of either horrible acting or completely unlikeable characters. I don’t want to watch a movie with either of these things – I don’t think the rules should be any different for the horror genre. Lili Taylor was the best thing about this film for me. She was genuinely believable as a loving mother who just wants to protect her five daughters. I know she’s been in plenty of things in more recent years but not much that I’ve seen so it was great seeing her in a big role in this – I’ve always especially loved her part in Say Anything. Vera Farmiga is also great in this although I kind of feel I’ve seen her play a similar role before. The bond the two woman share as they both have daughters was very good. The men are fine but really take a backseat to all the females in the film (Ron Livingston especially seems to have very little to do). Being a woman, I really liked seeing a film with such strong female leads. Even all six daughters in this film do an excellent job, which is great as there has been some especially bad child-acting in horror films.

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Summary:

The Conjuring uses every trick in the book to scare us but at least uses those tricks in some fairly original & effective ways. The film has a good look & feel which will keep fans of old fashioned horror films happy but I think should also please a younger generation of fans who want something other than torture porn. But the thing that makes the film stand out the most in its genre is some great performances, especially those of the strong female leads. This film feels like a more grown-up horror film and will hopefully pave the way for similar films in this genre. I don’t think it’s the best “haunted house” film I’ve seen but it’s a refreshing return to an old formula that’s a step in the right direction in a generation now filled with some mind-numbingly bad and excessively gory so-called horror films.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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