THE CONJURING 2
Direction: James Wan
Actors: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
He is one of the contemporary cinema’s dependable fright-meisters. Three years after scaring audiences worldwide with the smash hit supernatural thriller. The Conjuring, James Wan returns to direct the franchise’s second installment.
The sequel is based on another true-life case study involving the renowned demonologist couple (Farmiga-Wilson, reprising their roles effectively). This time around, the paranormal investigative duo travels to London to protect a single mother (Frances O’Connor) and her four children from a poltergeist infestation which has turned their lives into a living nightmare.
Wan keeps tight control of the haunted-house narrative and with the aid of cinematographer Don Burgess maintains a sufficiently spooky atmosphere.
The escalating tension hinges on the fact that there seems to be no concrete evidence of the spectral spirits terrifying the family’s 11-year-old daughter (a star making turn from newcomer Madison Wolfe).
Also on hand, for reasons clear only to the film’s four scriptwriters, are a skeptical psychologist (Franka Potente, the Run Lola Run firebrand, sadly reduced to an inconsequential cameo) and a chirpy British researcher ( Simon McBurney ).
The scares are achieved through fluid camera movements and the subtle use of light and shadow. Unusually for a horror movie, it makes heartfelt use of the classic Elvis Presley number, “Can’t help falling in love with you”.
Unfortunately, there are as many, if not more, cheap jolts as in the original film. Also the unduly lengthy sequel overstays its welcome beyond a certain point. Clearly, the 135 minutes runtime is excessive.
Yet despite an abundance of genre trappings, it’s evident from The Conjuring 2 that James Wan’s horror career is still in ascendancy.