Saw (2004) director James Wan returns to his horror roots, but fails to conjure up any form of fear for his audience.
⭐ ⭐ ½
Ever since the release of sleeper hit Paranormal Activity, movies with hauntings and demons have become an increasing trend, yet the quality of these films still lacks. The Conjuring 2 is the latest in this spiritual horror genre, but sadly it’s another addition to the growing list of unoriginal ghost stories.
Continuing on from the legacy of its predecessor, we are thrust once more into the disturbingly creepy world of the Warren family as they investigate the recent disturbances of a new poltergeist in Einfield, England. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as Ed and Lorraine Warren, who meet an unfortunate 11 year old girl (Madison Wolfe) who appears to be under demonic possession. Based on the supposedly true case files from 1977, the film begs the question why those files were even reopened.
My largest gripe with the film is that it uses the same basic scare tactic almost all horror use – jump scares. The music softens. The camera reveals a shadowy, empty space where you imagine a demon would be lurking. Then following a quick 180 perspective spin, an ear-splitting scream is unleashed… do this over and over again and it becomes a little underwhelming.
The film also suffers from a bloated 134 runtime that fails to shock or awe. Instead, it bores its audience with heavy use of clichéd storylines; family moves into a new home; family experiences subtle, yet growing number of disturbances that are downplayed as vivid imaginations of children; disturbances culminate with a larger show of demonic force leading to the ghostbusters being called in – in this case, the Warrens. But what is the end game of the demon? Not to kill, obviously, as there are no casualties in all this time.
Thankfully, the film makes up for its lack of fear factor and sensible plot with its strong acting and art design. The true heroes of the story are those who worked on the production, especially the exterior shots of the streets of England. The attention to detail within each household is clear to see; you genuinely feel transported back to the late 70’s. If only the same meticulousness were translated to the story.
I don’t think James Wan is necessarily a bad director. My only hope is that he works with someone who can produce a more meaningful horror story in the future; one that isn’t afraid to go beyond mildly taunting its characters. Perhaps he should view It Follows for some guidance.
The Conjuring 2 is available in Australian cinemas from June 9
Image courtesy of Roadshow Films