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The Conjuring 2
3.5/5
dir James Wan
scr Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, James Wan, David Johnson
prd Rob Cowan, Peter Safran, James Wan
with Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Frances O'Connor, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente, Simon Delaney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Bob Adrian
release US 10.Jun.16, UK 13.Jun.16
16/US New Line 2h14
The Conjuring 2
True believers: Farmiga and Wilson

o'connor potente kennedy
See also:
The Conjuring (2013)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Conjuring 2 Filmmaker James Wan continues the loosely fact-based story of real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren, skipping ahead five years to 1976 to touch on the Amityville haunting before moving across the Atlantic to the Enfield poltergeist. It's a gripping story, with enjoyably emotional character depth and some truly scary set-pieces. But Wan once again can't resist using every cliche in his playbook.

After being shaken by events at Amityville, Ed and Lorraine (Wilson and Farmiga) are notified that a family in North London needs them. In Enfield, single mother Peggy Hodgson (O'Connor) is terrified when a malevolent presence targets her 11-year-old daughter Janet (Wolfe), also endangering her three other children (Esposito, Haigh and McAuley). They turn to their neighbours (Delaney and Kennedy) for help, and call in both two experts, a believer (McBurney) and a sceptic (Potente), to get to the bottom of things. And when the Warrens arrive, things come to a breaking point.

The screenplay cleverly weaves in documented facts of the Hodgsons' experience with a variety of real and fictional elements from the Warrens' work. This puts the film within the world of the 2013 original, and Wan uses the same visual language in his constantly prowling camerawork, with its revelatory pans and zooms around gloomy sets. An array of noises and musical clues unsettle the audience along with figures that suddenly loom out of deep shadows or long focus.

Wilson and Farmiga bring a terrific earnestness; the Warrens' approach to the spirit world is rooted in their faith. The characters are remarkably consistent, dead serious when talking about ghosts, deeply in love with each other, and not averse to a bit of levity now and then. The best touch is the discovery that Wilson does a charming Elvis impersonation. As the hauntees, it's Wolfe's pre-teen who bears the brunt of the histrionic possession, and she's hugely engaging. Everyone else basically just looks terrified.

Along the way, there are some genuinely frightening sequences that build proper suspense simply because Wan has taken the time to deepen the characters. Even so, he clearly has an obsession with creepy basements, and the Hodgsons' swamped cellar is almost unbelievably nasty. As is the deliberate grubbiness of their home. And while there are some elements that Wan clearly wants us to smile at, his reliance on tropes like malevolent nuns and creepy toys continues to feel rather tired.

cert 15 themes, violence, language 13.Jun.16

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