If there’s something strange, in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call… The Warrens, apparently!
Reprising their roles from the nightmare-inducing first film, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are back with another alleged true story of a family being terrorized by an evil entity living in their home.
In 1977, young Janet Hodgsen (Madison Wolfe) is asleep in her upstairs bedroom, when she is suddenly and inexplicably teleported into the downstairs lounge room. This begins a series of bizarre and unnerving occurrences in the home, also witnessed by her mother Peggy (Frances O’Conner) and three siblings.
Naturally, few in town believe the family, so they send a plea for help across the sea to Lorraine (Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Wilson). The couple are reluctant to answer the call in the wake of the Amityville mystery, but nevertheless, make their way to England to rid the terrified family of their poltergeist.
Is it scary? For a while, yes. Genre director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) uses camerawork and unsettling sounds to exaggerate the jump scares and at no point during the night sequences will you feel safe. However, its believability (which is already stretched) is lost during the final act and all built-up tension is mostly abandoned. You won’t fear sleep afterwards, as most of the haunting is quickly forgotten.
The best of the film comes from the townsfolks ability to quickly argue the case as one big hoax, though it doesn’t do enough to persuade me that it wasn’t one; it all becomes too similar to The Exorcist for this agnostic viewer.
To be fair, there were a couple of instances which confounded me as to how it was made possible – particularly as two policemen watched a chair slide from one room into the next (the officers in real life signed an affidavit that this happened before them) – but there isn’t enough to really give me the creeps like the first film did.
Wolfe as Janet is absolutely terrifying and is by far the scariest part of the film. It’s a shame there isn’t enough proof to at least sympathetically believe she is being haunted. As soon as they take away the cameras and recording devices, it becomes hard to feel sorry for her.
If the series ends here, then that would be the biggest let down from this film. There are certainly makings for a complete collection of cases with spooky adventures featuring the intriguing Warren couple. Alone, The Conjuring 2 didn’t do enough to challenge my beliefs, even for a short while, as the first Conjuring came scarily close to doing so.
Another instalment may prove that third time’s a charm – or at least an anti-haunting amulet. For now: I ain’t afraid of no ghost!