Sunday, September 25, 2016

Horror Film Review

The Conjuring 2 (2016):  The further adventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren find the real-life pair of demonologists up to their eyeballs in supernatural mayhem across the pond in England in a case that came to be known as the Enfield Poltergeist.  By all accounts, this "based on a true story" film exaggerates the Warrens' involvement to a staggering degree.  Does this pesky fact take away from the overall quality of director James Wan's version of events?  Nope.

It's 1977 and we start with Ed and Lorraine (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) investigating a certain house in Amityville, New York where Lorraine encounters a powerful demon in the form of a super-duper creepy nun and has a vision of Ed dying.  Afterwards, she decides they're taking a break from their ghostbusting.  Meanwhile in Enfield, England, single mom Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor) and her four children begin experiencing all manner of bizarre events in their run down council home.  Daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe) is the target of the malevolent entity.  Probably because she used a homemade ouija board by herself.  She's tormented and occasionally possessed which leads mom Peggy to seek help wherever she can.  Neighbors then police (who do witness the activity) and eventually the press and paranormal investigators.  The Hodgson case becomes something of a media sensation (it really did...look it up).  In the end, the church asks the Warrens fly over there and report on whether they feel it's a hoax or the real deal.  They waffle because of Lorraine's disturbing dreams but finally agree.

Their investigation reveals that an elderly man named Bill Wilkins died in the house and is the spirit responsible for the torturous chaos afflicting the Hodgsons.  After a series of terrifying events, the Warrens are convinced it is not a hoax...until a camera captures Janet, not an invisible force, destroying the kitchen.  With everything that occurred before now in question, mom Peggy is pissed that they doubt her and demands they leave.  While on the train waiting to depart, Ed realizes something about the audio recordings they made and using two separate tape players, plays back two different sessions of dead guy Bill speaking simultaneously.  That's when they learn Bill is not responsible but instead he's trapped in the house and being manipulated by a demonic force.  The Warrens race back to the Hodgson home to do battle with the dark entity (yes, it is the same one Lorraine met in the Amityville house).

Ignoring the liberties the filmmakers may have taken regarding what actually took place almost 40 years ago, one cannot help but become emotionally invested in the plight of Janet Hodgson and her family.  My complaints include those liberties I mentioned as well as the running time (134 minutes).  It's simply too long.  And while I understand the need to beef up the action and chills, it is possible to make a horror film based on real events that stays true to that reality without making a bunch of shit up.

The Skinny

Acting:  Wilson and Farmiga as the Warrens alternate between wooden and over the top.  Their performances are strange.  O'Connor and the kids are spot on.
Story:  Based on a true story.  Very loosely based.  Ends up part The Exorcist and part Poltergeist.
Direction:  James Wan knows what he's doing.  Just wish on this occasion it wouldn't have taken him 134 minutes to do it.
Production Values:  Well, since the budget was $40 million, there's really not much to talk about.  If anything, it's a little too slick.  This is supposed to be 1977 so it should have that grainy, 70s look.  The sets, especially the Hodgson house, are amazing.
Gore/FX:  For the life of me, I can't understand why this is rated R.  A tiny bit of blood and no gore.  Considering the budget, the CGI is impressive, of course.
Scares:  I'm sure most folks would say there are loads of them.  For me personally, I can think of two decent ones.
Ending:  God help me, it was too happy.  Hokey Hollywood hokum.
Verdict:  Should you see The Conjuring 2?  Sure.  I don't think it's as good as the first one, but it's certainly not bad.  At least there's no creepy fucking doll in it.

Rating:  3 out of 5

1 comment:

  1. Hokey Hollywood hokum?
    You should write.