In another very successfully crafted horror masterpiece from director James Wan, “The Conjuring 2” doesn’t let up on the gas when it comes to the critical and scare worthy chops that it takes to make a very very good movie – irrespective of the genre.
In current times, many sequels are just an afterthought when it comes to making something that builds upon, rather than just extends what made it’s predecessor a hit.
“The Conjuring 2” does it’s work on all fronts to make something that is of worthy seeing all on it’s own – and the effort pays off in spades.
“I felt a lot of pressure with this movie because the first film was so beloved,” stated Wan, who has a winning track record with audiences as the director of “The Conjuring,” “Saw,” and “Insidious.”
Wan also just finished “Furious 7,” and has been recently announced as the future director of “Aquaman,” set for release in 2018.
“I wasn’t quite sure if I can live up to the expectations of the first one,” said Wan, vividly describing his trepidation when it came to “The Conjuring 2.”
He was also nervous about re-entering the lives of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the real life husband and wife paranormal investigative team at the center of the then would be franchise.
“Can you guys think of a horror sequel that people liked more than the first one?” opined Wan in talking to reporters last week.
However, once Wan decided to take on the task, he was determined to crack the code or leave it all on set and in the editing room – sink or swim.
“I never took any of this lying down. I really went for it and I think that is something that we all collectively felt that we had to do.”
Well, if the proof is in the viewing, “The Conjuring 2” proves to be a very sea worthy vessel – easily enjoyed as a more than buoyant complement to it’s predecessor or as a superlatively unique horror cruise all on its own.
What would seem to be the ‘keep it simple’ key to it’s success is that Wan smartly sticks with the Ed and Lorraine Warren that actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga lovingly created in the first movie without making the common mistake of not allowing them the screen time to grow and evolve as people with whom audiences can relate on a second viewing.
“I think people really enjoyed the scary set pieces. I had a lot of fun crafting those, but ultimately I think people loved the characters,” said Wan on the subject. “The characters feel real and they feel fleshed out and you don’t generally get that in horror films, which is such a shame to say (when it comes to) modern horror movies. I think that part of my love for classic older school horror movies kind of lent itself to more character development.”
Constantly upping the ante for himself as well as the audience, Wan also made the inspired decision to set “The Conjuring 2” not on another isolated farm in America, in a direct aping of the original movie.
Instead, Wan decided to take his lead characters out of their element by focusing on the Warren’s real life case in highly populated North London, England, where a single parent family living in close-knit Enfield council/public housing is being stalked by a poltergeist.
The change of venue is a welcome twist as an illumination of the emotional tropes of family and preserving and repairing familial ties that serve as a consistent theme running through “The Conjuring 2.”
Certainly, it was a great and highly plausible idea in the writing that the besieged family of the Hodgsons, as portrayed by Frances O’Connor as the matriarch Peggy, and her daughter Janet, as played by talented newcomer Madison Wolfe, have their own struggles pre-haunting that serve as a great dramatic compliment to the new stresses that threaten to divide Ed and Lorraine.
“I guess my daughter Janet is going through a tough time too and our relationship is quite fraught,” stated O’Connor on the interpersonal ‘temperature’ of the Hodgson family at the outset of “The Conjuring 2.”
At the outset, Janet’s father has recently exited the family and left her mom financially high and dry with four kids to raise.
“I think because of that, the emotional state we are all in, we’re kind of open to these kind of entities coming into the house to find a place to live because we’re in such a bad way. So it’s kind of like a slightly parasitic kind of relationship,” said O’Connor.
All of this social complexity, with the added bonus of the top flight signature horror sequences that James Wan is known for, and “The Conjuring 2” more than holds it own and then some as a movie worthy of becoming a classic in it’s own right.
“The Conjuring 2” starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, France O’Connor and Madison Wolfe opens in theaters nationwide on June 10, 2016.