I have always been in the only person in my family and friends who loves horror films. I've loved them ever since I was a kid even though I would scare the heck out of myself and end up hiding all my scary toys, records and pictures before I went to bed. At one point, I would have bad dreams because of my childhood horror habit. Then I learned how to fight my dream monsters. It was loads of fun. In my dreams I was a pint sized superhero fighting off zombies, werewolves, vampires, demons and ghouls. To my great disappointment the loads of fun I was having ended abruptly because I stopped suffering nightmares. It was only years later I learned the term for that kind of dream, it was called "Lucid Dreaming." I never experienced it again in such a vivid way. I dearly missed the ability to turn into any kind of person or animal I wanted to be in order to fight off monsters. No longer did I have the cool ability to pick up useful objects out of thin air that I needed in my personal dream quests.
Anyway, I still love horror films and "Conjuring 2" did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the first film as well. In fact when I heard about the sequel, I just rolled my eyes. There was no way they could exceed the first film. But they did to my amazement. This film matches its predecessor and many times tops it.
The film begins with a snippet from one of the Warren's investigations. The first film intro was about the possessed Anabelle doll (a demonic looking Victorian porcelain doll in film but just a pedestrian Raggedy Ann doll in real life). In this film we get a glimpse of the Amityville Horror in which the Lorraine Warren character reenacts the DeFeo crime while in a trance state and meets up with a demon. James Wan and crowd cannily tie up the Anabelle story, the first Conjuring story, the Amityville segment and the Enfield case into one overall story arc. I found that very impressive.
Moving on, the family in peril is living in England. One of the first film's greatest strengths was how well it captured the 1970's time period. More in particular the American 1970's. Unfortunately, the filmmakers really don't know a great deal about the British 1970's experience. To make up for that, they put up a hackneyed montage of 1970's moments from British television. Which really convinces no one. So at the beginning of the haunting story, all I could focus on was how phony and staged everything seemed. The Enfield interiors/exteriors are almost entirely on a sound stage not on location. If you want sprawling London set pieces ala An American Werewolf in London go elsewhere. Fortunately, they had a large cast of talented adult and child actors, so I was quickly pulled into the story.
This film is decidedly darker in tone than the first. The family in the first film was well adjusted and rather happy. So what happens to them is a shock. However the fatherless and working poor family in this film are in danger regardless of supernatural stalkers. I've read one review that the series greatest element was the Warren couple and how much they love one another. I agree, these films work because the Warrens are so likable and so in love. It is this mutual love that protects the lost family in this film. Another great factor of these films is how leisurely they set up the scene. There is no rush to ghost monsters but a slow buildup of occurrences until no one involved can explain them away or ignore them. This also helps with characterization. The audience knows the characters very well and are allowed to actually care for their safety.
Are there some cheesy missteps in the film? Yes, there were some elements that took me out of the story. But nothing that destroyed the film as a whole. I think the horror is well done, a lot of good creepy scares and images to keep you awake at night. I recommend it and look forward to the next installment of the series.
Labels: culture, horror, movies, reviews