The Conjuring 2 (2016)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Overall Rating 73%
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Ranked #646
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Connections: The Conjuring

In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to London, England, where single mother Peggy Hodgson believes that something evil is in her home. When Peggy's youngest daughter starts showing signs of demonic possession, Ed and Lorraine attempt to help the besieged girl, only to find themselves targeted by the malicious spirits. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: November 5, 2016
With hundreds of cases to pull from Ed and Lorraine Warren's files, The Conjuring franchise seems to be basing itself on the real-life couple's extensive paranormal investigation career. In the second entry, we're following them all the way to England for their Enfield Poltergeist case.

We catch up with the Warrens at the scene of perhaps their most famous case, an alleged haunted house in Amityville, New York. Lorraine has enlisted Ed and the house's occupants to perform a seance so she can commune with any spirits residing in the dwelling. She's certainly not disappointed as she encounters a demonic nun that shows her a horrific vision: her husband being impaled by a giant wooden spike. Needless to say, the omen leaves her terrified and she has no intention on risking his life to continue their career. Meanwhile, across the ocean in London, Peggy Hodgson as her own problems to worry about. After her husband walked out on her for another woman, she's left struggling to raise her four kids alone. A task that becomes completely impossible when her youngest daughter, Janet, begins to be harassed by some form of dark entity. Whether it's terrifying her by moving things around her room or outright possessing her, it quickly proves to be an extremely powerful force. Their story becomes a media sensation and eventually makes it way across the pond to the Warrens. Fearing something demonic is at hand, the Church is begging the two to investigate the matter. Despite Lorraine's objections, Ed is able to convince her that the family needs their help, but they'll soon find out that there is something very personal about this entity.

Maintaining the same mid-tempo pacing that I love so much about Wan's style, this monster is also so much more aggressive than the one we saw last time. While the ambush tactics of ghostly forms appearing out of the shadows is reused, we're also treated to a plethora of psychological tactics. One of my favorites was taking the Crooked Man from one of the kids' zoetrope and manifesting it as an eight foot tall avatar to assault Hodgson and Warren alike. Plus, poor Janet spends the entire ordeal trying to fend off a full-out possession; what starts out as "sleep walking" soon escalates to teleporting around the house and being used as a vessel for the spirit to speak through. Truthfully, there's a reason why this threat is so much more powerful than the one in Rhode Island, but that delves into spoiler territory a bit more than I'd like to go.

Horror aside, The Conjuring 2 also went above and beyond to show the Warrens bonding with the Hodgsons, especially Janet. The first movie had a few scenes sprinkled throughout the run time, but it was a full-fledged theme in the sequel. Hell, there's a scene where where Ed sits down with a guitar and serenades the family with an entire Elvis song. While you could argue this slowed the pacing of the movie down, personally, I thought they were well shot scenes and added a lot to the final product. With all that said, I do have to admit I didn't like the flip in the Warrens' feelings about taking on cases. In the last movie, Ed was dead set against it after Lorraine's vision during the exorcism. Now, all of a sudden he's gung ho about taking everything that comes their way, even when she's begging him not to. While Lorraine's change of heart is obviously a result of her visions, Ed's is completely out of left field. It's such a pronounced shift in a core personality trait, I couldn't help be annoyed by it.

While our Hodgson family doesn't quite have the chemistry the Perrons did in the last outing, they're still able to hold things down nicely. With Frances O'Connor's performance providing a solid foundation, young Madison Wolfe was free to explore the tormented Janet. Between her age and the nature of the role, she very well could have flown off the rails into overacting, but fortunately she was able to keep herself decently grounded, and turned in a very nice showing. Truly shining however, were the returning Warrens. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson both brought their A-games to the movie, which given the higher stakes and more personal implications, was absolutely necessary. Whether it was warming up to the Hodgsons, arguing with skeptics, or obviously terrified for their lives, the pair hit every note perfectly.

Once again, James Wan and the Warrens have put a smile on my face. Looking forward, the Nun is getting a spin-off movie for some reason, but the Warrens have had some doozies they can pull out of their filing cabinet for the next proper sequel. The Smurl family's trio of ghostly sexual deviants or the Arne Johnson trial would be good choices, and even The Haunting in Connecticutt was based on a Warrens' case if they chose to re-adapt that story. Whichever they use for The Conjuring 3, I'll be there. 7.5/10.
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