The Conjuring 2 is a better-than-average horror film, and a better-than-average sequel. It, however, is not better than the original in my head. People familiar with some of the most famous films in horror will be able to point out those that influence this one as time draws on, such as The Omen and The Exorcist. The haunting in Enfield, England, was said to be the work of a poltergeist, but here no poltergeists are mentioned, instead there being two other types of entities at play. One is the spirit of an older man who used to live in the house the current occupants, a mother and her four children, are getting by in. The other is a demonic entity in the guise of a nun who haunts the dreams, visions, and mind of Lorraine Warren after she and her husband investigate the Amityville House. As an extra bonus the possessed daughter, Janet, through the power of illusion, becomes and comes across a creature called the Crooked Man, reminding me a bit of today's Slenderman and a couple of scenes from 2007's The Messengers. An image relating to a windowsill brought back the conclusion of Annabelle to my mind, and a couple other minor dynamic notes struck me as similar to last year's Sinister 2. There is someone I know who absolutely hated the original movie, seeing it as a big rip-off of The Amityville Horror. He had several examples to reinforce his point of view. I thought this: The Conjuring was a well-made film that desired to bring back fuzzy memories of horror films' past. It did not bother me at all with the similarities, for it tried to do something different with those components as well, and for the most part was largely successful. This newer movie nods once again to The Amityville Horror by going to the House, and then plots a new course ahead that keeps nodding to Poltergeist. There is a cornball acoustic guitar sequence that feels off that couldn't remind me of that movie and its sense of humor more.
My thoughts on the new movie? Well-acted, as I expected. Rich atmosphere, build-up to scares instead of constant jump ones, which I am about absolutely sick of by this point, so points for that. There are some clever twists, but if you look at the reasoning behind some of them, you begin to question some of the framework of the later scenes. The demon nun reminds me a bit too much of the veiled woman of the Insidious franchise. The two trailers ruined a couple of the scares for me, while the trailer I watched frequently before the first movie messed around with some of the actual things that would later be seen and caught me off guard because I expected certain things to happen, but they didn't in the way I was preparing myself for. The second film runs on for quite a long length of time, so as to give the film more of an epic weight, which in some ways is a deterrent, much like the length of this review I have typed, I must admit. ):
The threat is real and strong, but if you treat some elements like a mystery, as they are portrayed, and try to piece them together in your head, they won't all hold up. There are a lot of leftover pieces that don't stick me quite right, much like how I felt after watching Annabelle. The idea of there always being a bigger threat behind the other one is one of those pieces. The extended epic length builds up and up to a frightening confrontation, but as is happening more and more nowadays with these sorts of things, the threat is too easily defeated. Conjuring Número Uno played the ending out more and made things feel lived-in and the audience to feel the character's exhaustion and fear, while here all judgement is as cloudy as the murky skies cast overhead. This talk of the ending is a bit spoilerish, but I find it lazy to do what this newest film did to resolve matters. The figurative fiery Phoenix (X-Men reference there) is there in front of you, blowing everything to smithereens, freaking the living daylights out of you, and emotionally tearing you apart, and here the threat gave you the tools to quickly off it. Unbelievable. And it's strange how one comes to discover that as well.
Overall, though, it was a treat to see the world on display back again, 70s blitz all, and a heart still beating underneath the glamor, though it feels a bit too familiar, enabling one to feel a bit too comfortable in one's seat. But scares are still aplenty, goosebumps do rise, and the eerie sounds during the end credits made me smile at what they could have been following from if the film had been perfect. I assign the movie a score of 3.5 out of 5. Good, but not great. Next on the series' schedule: Annabelle 2 (due out next year), The Conjuring 3, and a new spin-off called The Nun based off the demon in this movie. For those new to these flicks, welcome to The Conjuring Extended Universe.