“Come on, Bill. You’re not a psychiatrist, and we’re not here to talk about my father. What do you say we get down to business?” asks Ed Warren.
I first encountered The Conjuring at the 2012 NY Comic Con, attending a panel that included director James Wan and stars Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, and Ron Livingston. I was really excited about it, and was fascinated by its basis on the true case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren (a married couple who also worked as paranormal investigators more than 40 years ago). Although pumped to see the film, it took me a couple of months to find the time to see The Conjuring on the big screen after its Summer 2013 opening, but it was worth the wait and it turned out to be one of the best horror films I’d seen in the last several years. When I heard that a sequel was greenlit, I eagerly awaited the next installment. I finally saw Wan’s The Conjuring 2 on the big screen recently, and it was just as good as the first film (I was entertained by the genuine scares and chilly atmosphere the film was able to produce).
2016’s The Conjuring 2 follows the Warrens as they investigate a supernatural haunting that is plaguing a family in Enfield, England, in 1977 while Lorraine is plagued by visions of a demonic nun. Wan gathered an impressive ensemble that included Patrick Wilson (as Ed Warren), Vera Farmiga (as Lorraine Warren), Frances O’Connor (as Peggy Hodgson), Madison Wolfe (as Janet Hodgson), Simon McBurney (as Maurice Grosse), Franka Potente (as Anita Gregory), Lauren Esposito (as Margaret Hodgson), Patrick McAuley (as Johnny Hodgson), Benjamin Haigh (as Billy Hodgson), Maria Doyle Kennedy (as Peggy Nottingham), Simon Delaney (as Vic Nottingham), Shannon Kook (as Drew Thomas), Sterling Jerins (as Judy Warren), Bob Adrian (as Bill Wilkins), Robin Atkin Downes (as the voice of Bill Wilkins), Abhi Sinha (as Harry Whitmark), Annie Young (as Constable Heeps), Elliot Joseph (as Constable Peterson), Bonnie Aarons (as the Demon Nun), and Javier Botet (as the Crooked Man). Wilson and Farmiga give strong performances once again as the Warrens, and O’Connor also shines as the Hodgson matriarch who tries to keep her family together during the Enfield Poltergeist.
The screenplay by Wan, Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes, and David Leslie Johnson delves into another real-life case of the Warrens, slowly building towards the Warrens’ involvement in the Enfield case. Don Burgess’ cinematography reflects the dark tone of the film, and Julie Berghoff’s production design is utterly creepy and dreadful (I loved the Hodgson’s home, which almost acts as another character in the film). Kristin M. Burke’s costume designs reflect the fashions of the late 1970s as well as the film’s tone, and the makeup design is top-notch (the design of the Demon Nun was my favorite, and the work on Bill Wilkins was really horrifying as well). The special effects are first-rate, favoring mostly practical over CGI, and Kirk Morri’s editing gives the film a good pace while heightening the scares. Joseph Bishara delivers another thrilling score with two new themes provided by Mark Isham (just like with the previous film). Wan’s The Conjuring 2 is a rare horror sequel that is every bit as good as its predecessor and continues to explore the fascinating cases of the real-life Warren family.