It’s hard to separate a sequel from its original counterpart, especially with a movie like The Conjuring, which is quite simply one of the very best haunted house movies ever—not only that, but it pretty much set the bar for all future films of its ilk; that’s a hell of an accomplishment, to say the least. But the great thing about The Conjuring and its sequel is that they tell their own separate stories, each focusing on a different case file from Ed and Lorraine Warren, creating an almost anthology-style universe. And that’s really what makes this sequel so unique, is that we’re able to focus on an entirely new tale without comparing apples to apples. This time around, Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.
What’s immediately great about The Conjuring 2 is, obviously, the poise and masterful world building from its creator James Wan—no one is killing it as hard as him when it comes to big budget horror, it’s as simple as that. So despite the film mostly taking place within the walls of a little home in Enfield, Wan has (yet again) crafted a massively terrifying universe that constantly slithers and stirs, leaving you left to wonder what’s hiding behind each and every shadow. And I’ve said this about his movies before, but he has this way of creating tension out of almost nothing, with each and every scene leading to something bigger and scarier than the one that came before it. The way he creates tension and scares is as good as it gets, and The Conjuring 2 is overflowing with them.
But because there are so many scares going on in this movie (certainly way more than the first film), not all of them completely land, leaving somewhat of a mixed bag. And I say somewhat because the scenes that do work are some of the most terrifying shit to come out of any of his movies yet—seriously, there are parts in this movie that will make you want to crawl under your seat. So even though the filler (jump scares) in-between those moments are pretty tame in comparison, it does create a non-stop nightmare that rarely ever slows down the narrative, which surprisingly has a lot more going on in it than you’d think. The story itself, while familiar, has a few very cool twists and turns (that I won’t spoil here) that do give Wan a much bigger playground to torment us in, and I loved that we get a taste of what goes on inside of Lorraine’s head.
That said, my only real complaint about the story was that it was resolved way too easily, especially after so much build up. Don’t get me wrong, the final act was probably my favorite part of the entire movie and no doubt one of its scariest parts, I just thought that the ending should have been much more challenging. Other than that, I really liked the direction Wan went with this one because although it is another haunted house story like the first film, The Conjuring 2 feels much more ghastly and supernatural, ultimately allowing him to create another world that thrives with terrifying monsters—The Crooked Man, for example, is made of pure nightmare fuel and it’s just one of the film’s many highlights.
I had a total blast with this one, so I could go on and on about it, but I’ll leave it at this—James Wan has done it again, proving that horror can be a lot of things, and depending on whose hands it’s in, a simple knocking on the walls or a shadow floating across the room can be utterly terrifying. Is it as good as the first film? Does it really matter? Good is good, and The Conjuring 2 is great.