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    The Conjuring 2 (2016): Movie Review

    A worthy and equally terrifying sequel of an unforgettable horror hit. 

     “Saw” and “Insidious” series director James Wan comes back to give us a deliciously terrifying and delightfully entertaining sequel to his 2013 horror hit. In The Conjuring 2, ghostbuster couple Ed and Lorraine Warren takes on a case that cements their strong marriage. With his Elvis swag and sweater vest, Patrick Wilson reprises his role as Ed, so does Vera Farmiga as the prim and polite Lorraine.

    The film opens with Ed and Lorraine investigating the aftermath of heinous murders that became known as “The Amityville Horror.” Through an out-of-the-body experience, Lorraine sees the shotgun murders and confirms that the tragedy was indeed demonic in nature. However, she also has a vision of her husband’s death as precipitated by a nun-looking ghoul (Bonnie Aarons).

    In 1977, seven years after the Amityville case, similar paranormal obsession is observed in an impoverished family living in the borough of Enfield, North London. After her husband abandoned them, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) single-handedly raised her four children (Lauren Esposito, Madison Wolfe, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley). Soon after a game of failed spirit calling, 12-year-old Janet (Wolfe) suffers sleepwalking, levitation, and possession of an angry old man named Bill Wilkins (Bob Adrian) who wants them out of his home.

    Through the request of the Catholic Church, Ed and Lorraine fly to England to investigate the incident in the Hodgsons’ home. The couple become a beacon of hope for the estranged family. However, premonitions are scarce and they could not find enough evidence to convince parapsychologist Anita Gregory (Franka Potente) of the authenticity of the paranormal activity, despite getting help from amateur researcher Maurice Grosse (Simon McBurney). But when Lorraine finally grasps the family’s plight, the vision of Ed’s death resurfaces to haunt her, endangering the Hodgsons further and testing the strength of their marriage.

    As expected from the director with numerous horror blockbusters, James Wan once again excelled in The Conjuring 2. The story and the drama are different from the first movie; yet, they are equally brilliant, breath-stopper, and terrifying. The present movie flawlessly interweaves the Warrens’ own tale with that of the true events that happened on the Hodgsons. The film builds up slowly as two events from different sides of the world are presented. While there is an intriguing vagueness of the Warrens’ story, the demonic happenings in the Hodgsons soon become repetitive. Yet, when their worlds collide, the suspense dramatically rises and each scene afterward becomes exceptionally riveting and gripping. 

    Familiar horror tropes are ever present, such as a distressed mother, troubled children, and an old house. However, the film succeeds with its visual tricks, and coupled with commanding energy, impeccable production design and musical score, the terror comes alive. Camera works are effective, whether as zooming shot or a back-and-forth movement. The 70’s vibe is also well played out and the gloomy house, complete with its stained tiles, rickety floorboards, and water-lagged basement, unerringly represents its residents’ despair and misery. The era’s music is playfully infused in the movie from time to time, and with perfectly-timed silences and eerie sounds like creaking floors, a screeching backyard swing, a dog bell, and a noisy toy firetruck, the score can certainly chill up any type of audience.

    Lastly, the entire cast is superb. Wilson and Farmiga are expectedly brilliant, while O’Connor compellingly brings the hardships and dilemmas of a mother desperately trying to keep her family intact. Wolfe is a winner her, as she brings the sweet innocence of a child and the malevolent anger of a possessed.

    The Conjuring 2 is a worthy sequel. It is intelligently written, brilliantly staged, and well acted out. Plus, there is the introduction of the creepy “Crooked Man,” possibly promising a spin-off movie much like Annabelle from the first film. 

    Production companies: A Warner Bros. released of a New Line Cinema presentation in association with Ratpac-Dune Entertainment of a Safran Company/Atomic Monster production 
    Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Frances O’Connor, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick Mcauley, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Franka Potente, David Thewlis, Bonnie Aarons
    Director: James Wan
    Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan, David Leslie Johnson
    Producers: Peter Safran, Rob Cowan, James Wan
    Executive producers: Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter, Steven Mnuchin
    Music: Joseph Bishara
    Director of photography: Don Burgess
    Production designer: Julie Berghoff
    Costume designer: Kristin M. Burke
    Editor: Kirk Morri


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