The Conjuring released in 2013 to the tune of $41 million dollars on opening weekend: double the films budget. This strong performance made a sequel inevitable, and thankfully everyone from the first film returns in this stunning follow-up that lives up to the suspense and horror of the original, all while introducing gripping twists and smart commentary on hauntings.
Following the structure of the first film, The Conjuring 2 borrows elements from the real life case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ed Warren, who passed away in 2006, was a demonologist and Lorraine Warren, who is still alive, claims to be clairvoyant. The couple are most famous for investigating the Amityville haunting. The first film followed their investigation of the Perron family haunting in 1971. The sequel follows another case they investigated after the Amityville haunting, the Enfield Poltergeist. It's nice how that event ties the movies together. The Conjuring ends by teasing Amityville and The Conjuring 2 starts with the conclusion to Amityville. It allows you to explore that story yourself, outside of the series. Plus, there have been so many movies made of that tale, there isn't really much lost.
Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return effortlessly to their roles as the Warren's. But the real standout is the Hodgson family, specifically Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson (shown in the poster above), the main target of the possession. Throughout the film she transitions from cute little innocent girl who was caught smoking at school into a demon possessed monster. The haunting takes place in Northern London, and it takes a while for the Warren's to make the trek across the Atlantic. This leaves plenty of time for the Hodgson's to be terrorized by an evil spirit. The suspense is riveting and I was genuinely surprised more than once.
Throughout the film, the question of whether or not the haunting is a real or not is brought up repeatedly, with police and other investigators on the scene. It seems obvious to ask this question, but to see the idea explored during the first and second acts really allows the viewer time to ponder the question themselves. It also helps bring some levity to the situation, and much needed humor before the Warren's arrival in London.
The movie itself is incredibly well shot with a few standout moments of pure terror. James Wan is at his best here. Midway through the second act there is a great scene where Patrick Wilson is looking through to the audience, the rest of the frame out of focus behind him, and the result is bone chilling. The focus never sways from him, and it creates a sense of panic, simply by not being able to see what is going on just behind him. As a clairvoyant, Lorraine works between both worlds, and the color work during her scenes that portray her powers is stunning.
All of this comes together in a truly thrilling third act, where multiple twists take the audience for quite the ride. The resolution is haunting and chilling, and inspired me to investigate the haunting outside of the film. I was completely terrified and on the edge of my seat, so what more could you want from a horror film? I highly recommend seeing it when it hits wide release on June 10th.
This review originally appeared on RoguesPortal.com.