Sunday, June 26, 2016

Movie Review: THE CONJURING 2 (Review #2)

Directed by horror veteran James Wan, The Conjuring 2 picks up 6 years later from its predecessor and finds Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorrain Warren (Vera Farmiga) struggling with their marriage in the face of Lorrain being haunted by a demon whilst they accept to travel to London to help a single mother (Frances O'Connor) and her four kids whose house is being haunted by a malicious spirit trying to corrupt the younger sister (Madison Wolfe).

When The Conjuring came out back in 2013, the out-pour of love for it left me absolutely incredulous, I will admit it had a couple of good scares and overall empathetic characters, but the handling of the true story aspect of the film was disastrous, the direction wasn't particularly inspired and it was basically not scary to me and relied too heavily on what are only jump scares that are a little less noticeable because of how James Wan masks them.

Still, I went into The Conjuring 2 very open minded and wanting to be proved wrong, but most of all, I wanted a good horror ride filled of tension and scares. Just as with its predecessor, I find myself disagreeing with the love for this film. What I got was an overlong, bloated and occasionally offensive film. Normally, if I find a movie to be offending my intelligence I go really low on it, yet The Conjuring 2 has enough moments to distract me from the very brief ones in which I found the filmmakers to be talking down on the audience and not treating them as equals.

Just as with The Conjuring, the haunted characters we are presented to are well fleshed out. They aren't by any stretch of the imagination as deep as a Chris MacNeil in The Exorcist, but they do have a dynamic that's interesting and you can't help but stick behind them as they battle with their struggles because of how ordinarily they are presented to you and for my money there is a pretty clear inspiration on Wan's part from a much superior recent horror film: The Babadook. There are some striking similarities in how the weight of being a mother is represented to you and whilst the inspiration is a little too evident, it really does work in getting you behind a mother continuously on the verge of breaking.

Moreover, there is a strange bipolarism in the way this film is shot and edited. It looks like it was done by two different people. I'll talk later about the dullness of half of the film, but there is some really inspired stuff in certain points and what makes it frustrating is that repeatedly when the film is having these great moments, it decides to cut away from them and go for some cheap horror tricks that result completely ineffective in the face of what was being built up. Indicative of this is a moment, at the start of the second act more or less, where the little boy goes down the house in the middle of the night to drink and we see him drink from the outside, on a steady shot showing just two windows in the house, it is a very simple shot, but in that moment a whole lot of possibilities open up and sprinkle amazing tension. And then what do the filmmakers decide to do? Cut to the garden outside where a swing is creaking.

That is the kind of stuff that happens throughout the movie that left me baffled. Not to mention, the ridiculous use of jump scares by Wan. I honestly and unfortunately don't get why he is hailed as the greats horror director of our time. Really this sh*t is supposed to be scary? My suggestion to everybody is to watch Rosemary's Baby and get a real taste of what scary is, there are one, two at best, jump scares. What Wan does here is simply make everything culminate in a jump scare of some sorts, visually, with sound or dialogue, it's always there and by the third scare in I had given up on it. He is trying to build tension in some ways which always result cheap, because they are only there to serve the final moment and not the story. At no point I felt stakes for what was happening, it was all just so predictable and uninteresting from a horror point of view, I found it to be very unsophisticated, culminating in a finale that I had very little investment on, once again it was having good moments, but they were all overcome by the dullness of their surroundings.

Which brings me to the next point: this script is a mess. With the exception o the above mentioned empathetic relation with the characters who are haunted, the rest of it terribly mishandled. Vera Farmiga gives a cringe worthy performance because of the ridiculous arch she is asked to handle. The mythology is all over the place, it is so chaotic and unclear it becomes offensive: there is no logic to what happens, which demon is which and why they collide together, I have literally no idea what was going on, who was haunting who, it was a disaster and just as messy was the handling of the true story element which isn't ever addressed in the film and asks the viewers for a suspension of disbelief that is just preposterous.

Whilst there is respect for the filmmakers in what they are trying to do and for some of their inspired ides, I am very sorry that this is the type of horror that is being hailed at the moment and wouldn't recommend this ride to people.

James's Score: 5/10

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