Sunday, June 12, 2016

Movie Review: THE CONJURING 2

When I first saw The Conjuring, I was amazed by how good it really was.  As a huge fan of horror, I've seen my fair share of bad films, and because of this my expectations aren't usually very high, so when a truly good one comes my way, it's a rare treat.  It was so good that it became one of my favorite horror films of all time, and that's why The Conjuring 2 was such a shock.  After the disappointing spinoff, Annabelle, I was a bit worried that this one wouldn't live up to the original, but I was wrong.  The Conjuring 2 is a huge improvement from the already fantastic first film, which I never thought could be possible, and makes me super excited for any future installments, which I really hope they make.

The film starts off with the Warren's in the midst of a case, just like in the previous film.  However, this time around, we see the Warren's most famous case...Amityville.  The Amityville haunting has been done in film several times, and was the only one I really wanted to see done in this franchise, though I never thought it would actually happen.  So when this film started off with the infamous case, I was instantly hooked, and I have to say, this was the perfect way to introduce Amityville into this series, and the perfect way to start the film.  This opening was brutal in the most non-brutal way, if that makes any sense, and the way the mirrors were utilized was nothing short of brilliant.

Horror master James Wan returns to the franchise to direct the sequel to his 2013 film, and I'm so glad he did.  The lack of Wan's direction was definitely noticeable in the spinoff film, Annabelle.  He has such an eye for horror, as seen in his previous films like Saw and Insidious, and was able to team back up with the great writing duo, Chad and Carey Hayes.  The Hayes Brothers returned to help pen this sequel, and it's their ability to take the story, one of the most documented cases in paranormal history, and turn it into a very compelling tale that led the original, and will no doubt lead this film, to success.  They created two separate, yet both compelling, story arcs and found a way to perfectly seem them together.  Wan and the Hayes were able to bring to the screen some extremely well-placed scares, great pacing, beautiful cinematography, and amazing characters in a way that others in the horror business need to take note.

And speaking of characters, this was the other thing The Conjuring films had over Annabelle.  The best part of these films was the electric chemistry between Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.  I could watch those two, whether together or separate, in just about anything.  Their absence was abundantly clear in Annabelle and seeing them back together in this one just solidified that point.  They gave fantastic performances, as they always do, and I have to say, Patrick Wilson does a damn good Elvis impression.  Let's get him in an Elvis biopic already!  The other standout performance in the film was Madison Wolfe, who played Janet Hodgson, an 11-year-old girl who is terrorized and possessed by a malevolent spirit.  I discovered that she is an American actress, yet her British accent was spot-on.  I had no idea.  And if you really want a great example of how good her performance is, just pay attention to her monologue during the swing set scene.  It blew me away.

There were so many things to love about this film, from the direction and writing, character development, cinematography, music, but few films are without faults.  The Conjuring 2 had only one real flaw that stuck out to me, and that was the poor CGI on the Crooked Man.  All of the other effects, whether it be the demon nun, the old man haunting the family, the room of crosses that invert themselves, and even Janet being phased through walls and the ceiling by the spirit, all looked believable, but the Crooked Man just looked fake.  He was creepy as hell, but still looked fake, and because of that, it took me out of the film for a moment.  However, that one flaw can be overlooked due to the immense amount of successful parts this film has, and that is why this film, in my opinion, is far superior to the original, and has made its way into my Top 10 horror films of all time.  I would highly recommend this film (and the original) to anyone who loves the genre and is looking for something fresh and well made.

The Merc's Score: 9.5/10

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