The Conjuring 2 (2016) Movie Reviews

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Conjuring 2 (2016) Movie Reviews

The Conjuring 2 (2016) Movie Reviews

Liked this a lot, but one thing was super out of place and it almost derailed the movie for me.
Wan is a master of the language of horror, and this film and the one preceding it both show that. He's got an enviable and rare level of control over every facet of the film and uses it to build tension with finesse. But his wheelhouse has always been very literal horror. In The Conjuring, everything we're witnessing is actually happening. There actually is a witch/demon that's haunting this house and was perched on the cupboard. Lorraine actually is having these visions of a presence in the house. The mother actually is possessed and vomiting blood.
Likewise, the first third of this film is literal. The spirit occupying the house was actually sitting in that chair, was actually next to the television, was actually moving the furniture. Everything about the way it was shot and presented to the audience conveys that literalism - this is all real. But the film then spends a sizable chunk of its runtime having characters question "is all this real?"
Which in and of itself is fine - there's something to be said for having characters question the reality of a situation, especially when the director is using it to set up a situation where the protagonists, fully believing in the reality of their situation, are at odds with those who are able to help them. It puts the audience on the side of those who believe. But because the Warrens take so long to fully commit to the goings on in the home, and because they have a moment of doubt, it places us at odds with them, and doesn't convincingly pivot to the family to have us identify with them instead of the newly skeptical Warrens.
The Warrens, especially given the plot with the demon nun, are the center of this film in a way they arguably weren't in the original. Whereas they were the Ghostbusters called in to save the family in the original, this film's conflict is unique rooted in their own lives and history. So for us to spend a large portion of the film at odds with them - in a position where what we know to be true based on the way the film presented it to us is being doubted by the characters we're supposed to identify with - felt waaaay off to me, and took me out of the film a few times.
I understand that the idea that it was all a hoax is a significant part of the real-world Enfield haunting case, but because Wan shot everything so literally, the idea that it might be a hoax fell flat for me.

The Conjuring 2 (2016) Movie Reviews

This was definitely one of the most anticipated movies of the year for me. Just got back from it, and I'm very glad I got to see it opening night. The cinematography was incredible and beautiful. Loved all the overhead shots and continuous shots that went through walls and windows. I really liked Ed and Lorraine again, they're both great characters. Although, I do think Ed was much more skeptical than he was in the first one, and it just seemed a little forced with how narrow-minded he was. My feeling is that he would've had enough proof for himself to believe them. The movie didn't seem to plateau, it never stopped being interesting to me, but at a certain point, there was a repetition of paranormal instances and then just moving onto the next instance. So it kept the same level of intensity, but not a continual rise in intensity, to the climax. And I also think I should've avoided the trailers and images in the ads, because a lot of the iconic moments of the movie, I'd seen already. Even though they were really good! The girl did a great job too! One thing I blatantly didn't like was the babadook slender man. I thought for sure it was a dream sequence, but it was actually happening in their reality. It reminded me of the stop motion from James and the giant peach and not world realistic to me. Kinda took me out of it. I had a lot of fun with the movie though. I loved the long take of Ed and Bill conversing. So cool. And the beginning of Lorraine going around the house as the possessed guy was wicked too. Reminded me a ton of the out-of-body experiences from Insidious. The climax was very good and once again, the camera work was top notch! Going from the air to the ground, bird's eye to looking up at the action was very cool. James Wan is awesome.

Has it's flaws, but overall even scarier than it's predecessor
I was able to see 'The Conjuring 2' at an advanced screening last night and I left feeling surprisingly satisfied. I can't remember the last time I saw a horror sequel that was able to hold it's own against it's predecessor, but with James Wan at the helm; I went in cautiously optimistic. 

Let me say off the bat that this movie is legitimately scary. It's the scariest horror film I've seen in a while and it does have genius scares, despite having many in the first half that felt a little cheap. This brings me to my biggest problem with 'The Conjuring 2'. Though this movie is consistently intense and definitely never boring, I felt that the first 50-or-so minutes were often formulaic and ineffective. This is a structural problem that I had and I'm sure it won't be a problem for many audience members. 

That entire first act consists of many individual scenes that all end in a scare, and the majority of these scares don't necessarily feel earned. So as a result; this section of the film often feels repetitive and drawn out. By this, I mean that one specific character reacts to one disturbing scare by not telling anyone about it. It also includes a few clich├ęs that didn't greatly affect the plot and wouldn't be missed (e.g Ouija board, children hearing something and getting out of bed to look for it; seriously this happens way too many times in this movie). I'm perfectly fine with film-makers experimenting with structure, but I'm afraid it just didn't work for me in this movie. In fact it's a-scare-a-scene design came off as conventional and peddling to the masses. I think the film would have benefited from a greater focus on slow-building tension.

Any problems within the troubled first act are nothing in comparison to the tension and legitimate terror rife throughout the last hour. In fact I feel confident enough in saying that I found this film to be even scarier than the first in the series. 

I found the music to be nothing particularly standout on it's own, but it worked well within the context of the movie and is greatly responsible for the tension created throughout. The performances from Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga were very good and the child actors were able to hold their own and not be just "good for kids". This film took risks in it's presentation including the design of many of the entities seen throughout, and I thought that this mostly remained effective. 

So overall; I found this to be an extremely successful horror film. I admire James Wan's ambition and I was impressed by his masterful use of long takes. I felt that the flaws in this film were greatly outweighed by it's achievements and I will definitely be checking it out again soon. In my opinion this is the best horror sequel since 'Evil Dead II' and I would definitely recommend it. Go check it out!

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