Movie Review: The Conjuring 2
By Matthew Huntley
June 20, 2016
The movie also has a lot of eerie imagery. Don Burgess' cinematography and Julie Berghoff's production design utilize skewed angles, creaky sets and subtle lighting to create an atmosphere that's cold, dreadful, and uninviting, especially the Hodgson house. One particular shot is so faint that we're not sure what we're looking at, only that it resembles a man standing over a bed in the dark. It's that uncertainty that gives us goosebumps. A similar shot makes it difficult for us to interpret the younger brother's tent, which could be something else altogether. On a visual level, the film captures that fear and anxiety we all experience when we can't make out what's in front of our face.
Something can also be said of the acting, especially Wolfe, who really makes us sympathize with young Janet. She evokes true anguish and I found myself caught off-guard by how much I cared about this girl and her family in hopes that the Warrens would find a solution to their problem. This was unexpected because few horror movies get us to actually feel for the characters, probably because they're usually archetypal pawns trapped in a screenplay that simply wants to terrorize them and therefore have little dimension or personality.
Despite its virtues, though, The Conjuring 2 eventually gets bogged down by the same old horror devices, like loud, omnipresent music that underlines the images too heavily; or the characters suddenly figuring things out and putting all the pieces together in a matter of seconds just as the climax is about to get underway; or an ending that takes place on a dark and stormy night, complete with lightning bolts; and another one of those “hang on for dear life” moments until another character appears in just the nick of time to reach their arm out.
Unfortunately, all of these things made me feel sort of cheated because the movie had me for much of its runtime. But as it devolved into absurdity, it's almost as if it went out of its way to lose me. The sensational effects were boring and distracting and the whole production eventually became so over-the-top and ridiculous that I could no longer forgive what it was doing.
The Conjuring 2 is a horror film, a horror sequel no less, that has a lot of good qualities, and we wish it had been able to push its tired genre conventions and cliches aside the whole time, but it wasn't meant to be. It's likely the filmmakers fell under the pressure of the success of the first film, which had a low-budget and became one of the most profitable horror movies in Hollywood history. They probably felt that in order to cover budget of the sequel, which was double that of its predecessor, they couldn't “risk” the movie not being overwrought. It's a shame, too, because this is one horror movie we hesitate giving up on, which is rare because there are so many we don't.