Seven years since the events of The Conjuring, and “paranormal investigators” Lorraine and Ed Warren are considering hanging up their ghost-busting boots, and leading a normal life.
But where would be the fun in that?
Across the pond (in Enfield, North London), there’s a fraught single mother whose four kids are being haunted by a pretty p*ssed off poltergeist. There’s furniture moving of its own accord. There’s loud knocks in the night. And then there’s Janet – 11-year-old Janet – who’s sleep-walking around the house and speaking in a growly, gravelly voice that would befit only a 70-year-old smoker.
The Warrens are called on to investigate and – despite Lorraine’s reservations – they agree to help.
Now, while you might think that the presence of renowned ghost hunters would quieten any evil spirits down a bit, don’t be fooled. Don’t relax. And don’t think that just because it’s daylight, nothing bad is going to happen.
Director James Wan knows how to scare an audience, and more than once in this film he excels at lulling us into a false sense of security. Not only – for example – is there the titular Enfield poltergeist to be incredibly scared of,but Lorraine is also having repeated visions of the nun of your nightmares, who seems to pop up exactly when you least want her to.
The film isn’t without its faults, and there are a few decisions made by the characters that are just that little bit unfathomable. When the Hodgson family figured out, for example, that the supernatural activity in their house seemed to centre around one – albeit quite comfortable looking – chair, for the love of God why didn’t they get rid of the chair?! Throw it in a river! Burn it! Bury it under ten tonnes of concrete! Just please, don’t keep it sitting ominously in your house!
Then there’s the fact of the house itself. I know you’re not meant to give into these spirits, but if the ghost of an evil old manis incessantly telling you – through your 11-year-old daughter – that the house is his,and that you don’t belong there, maybe you should just agree and leave. While it’s established that Peggy Hodgson is trying to get a different council house, in the meantime, surely her and her daughterwouldbe better off literally anywhere else. A hostel? The next-door-neighbour’s garden? A tent?
These minor plot points – although they might niggle you onceyou’ve left the cinema and your heart rate has returned to something at least vaguely resembling normal – don’t take away from how scary the film is. In those long, unbearably tense scenes you might want to shout “no Billy don’t go in there”, but you won’t be thinking “well this wouldn’t be happening if they’d just move house”, and that’s a real testament to James Wan.
He’s got a gift for torturing his audience, and every single one of his jump-scares feels well thought out. They’re also not predictable and while I – not a horror fan – didn’t exactly appreciate that, seasoned fans of being petrified probably will.
If you take all the horror out, thenThe Conjuring 2 is pretty much just religious propaganda (in that it makes you seriously want the Church on your side), but then why would you take all the horror out?
Appreciate it for what it is: a very scary (very jumpy) two hours of things going bump in the night, and you’ll leave The Conjuring 2 as a sweaty, shaking wreck. And if you like horror, then that’s probably a good thing.