The Conjuring 2 review: A louder, overlong carbon copy of the original

  • Rohan Naahar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 10, 2016 08:41 IST
Vera Farmiga is an excellent actor, but here, she’s given very little to do.

The Conjuring 2
Director - James Wan
Cast - Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Simon McBurney, Madison Wolfe
Rating - 1.5/5

Fun fact: The house The Conjuring 2 opens in, 112 Ocean Avenue - one of the most iconic locations in horror movies (it’s where the Amityville killings took place), went up for sale only a couple of days before this movie premiered. Sadly, this little tidbit, and the opening few minutes that reminded me of it, is the only part of this film that can realistically be described as ‘fun.’ The rest of it is a lazy, clichéd, soulless, inferior, unnecessary, indifferent, muddled, plodding, overlong carbon copy of the original.

You’d be surprised, but the first movie that came to mind while watching this was The Hangover Part II, followed almost immediately by Home Alone 2. Both were shoddier, near-identical sequels to their originals. And such are the similarities between The Conjuring 2 and its predecessor; it basically qualifies as a rainier, mistier and more thinly written remake. Only this time, the accents are British.

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Just like the original, this movie too stubbornly continues to insist that it is based on truth. Ed and Lorraine Warren, the intrepid paranormal investigators from the first film return, haunted by their own demons this time, as they hop, skip and jump across the pond straight into a kitchen sink drama. There’s another house, another family plagued by a haunting, and another mother whose horrible parenting skills deserve their own place in a textbook or something.

To quote the tagline for The Amityville Horror: “For God’s sake, get out!” But they never listen, do they?

What baffles me the most about this movie is that it doesn’t even take the easy way out and dish out jump scares as an excuse for its lack of script. James Wan is an immensely talented horror filmmaker, and there’s no way he didn’t know that this movie’s screenplay was in a terrible state. None of his trademark flashy camerawork can distract from some of the most clichéd dialogue you’ll ever hear in a mainstream horror movie, and honestly, a lot of it is of the calibre of a cheap, straight-to-DVD skin flick. It doesn’t look like his heart was in it this time.

Read: 10 horror movies from 2015 you probably missed

As with most horror, The Conjuring 2 is also very participatory. Those looking for a good time will probably convince themselves that a few scenes are scarier than they really are. It’ll play well at midnight screenings, horror movie marathons, and other situations where there is no option but to have a great time. But something tells me that its appeal will be restricted to only the most hardcore fans of the first film. Without an emotional core to latch on to, everyone else will probably be left underwhelmed.

For some misguided reason, Wan and his team of writers (there are 4 credited), decided to tone down the only thing that made the first Conjuring such a hoot. In between the curiously infrequent and largely ineffective jump scares, there is an attempt to concoct a human drama that ends up feeling as lifeless as one of this movie’s demonic entities.

Another annoying gripe I have with this film was that while it’s set in England, it very obviously feels like it’s put together by people whose complete understanding of the UK comes from watching too many reruns of Fawlty Towers. Every few minutes a character would blurt out words like ‘balmy’ or ‘fag’ or ‘bloody hell.’

But perhaps the best metaphor for this movie is its own villain: A 72-year-old curmudgeonly pensioner named Bill who died watching TV in his old armchair.

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The author tweets @NaaharRohan

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