I guess it’s some sort of skill to consistently produce/write/direct ‘horror’ films that actually aren’t scary. This is the dubious title I am unceremoniously awarding James Wan, who once again presents us with a film featuring an impeccable cast, impressive visuals and is of sumptuous high quality, but that is completely devoid of scares.
Set in 1977, The Conjuring 2 is the continuing story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who this time 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 beleaguered girl, only to find themselves targeted by the malicious spirit.
This is loosely based on the Warrens’ investigation of the “Enfield poltergeist”, and so can claim to be ‘based on a true story’.
Following in the tradition of his previous films, most notably Saw, Insidious, Annabelle and of course, The Conjuring, this ‘horror’ showcases the talents of his always talented cast; in this case we see the return of the brilliant Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as real life ghost hunters The Warrens, joined here by a mostly unknown group of stellar actors. The stand-outs being Frances O’Connor as mother to the poor possessed girl and Bob Adrian as the old man in the house.
There is a tangent featuring some badly misjudged cgi that draws the film to an instant standstill but they manage to bring the story back to more solid ground until its final denouement. Its just not scary.
This is the same issue I had with the first Conjuring and I was somewhat kinder on that grading based on the fact that it did so well at the box office (always good for horrors to sell tickets – more get made that way!) and because it was a quality film, albeit not much of a horror.
I will be somewhat harsher here.
As a film about a supernatural occurrence based in fact, it manages to make something that could have been quite silly, utterly believable, it creates 1970’s Britain faultlessly, is acted superbly (as expected) and maintains your interest throughout – I’d rate it highly as a thriller, perhaps even an 8/10.
But as a horror it does fail miserably; not a single chill or tingle, it also frequently went for cheap jump scares which are pretty much unforgivable for any real horror fan, and it only managed to create a almost imperceptible sense of dread, with no real fear.
No matter how well made it is, it really has one job – to scare us; and I’m afraid as a horror, it didn’t cut it.