The Conjuring 2 recounts the allegedly 'true story' of the Enfield Haunting. Where a family of five was terrorized by a poltergeist for almost 2 years, although its malice was mostly reserved for the second oldest sibling, Janet (Madison Wolfe). Though Janet seemed to be the poltergeist's primary target/victim, it also revealed itself to all the other family members, including the matriarch of the family Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor). Their claims were investigated by both skeptics and believers, and naturally both came to drastically different conclusions. The skeptics saw nothing that couldn't be rationalized away and the believers saw plenty of 'incidents' to reinforce their beliefs of the supernatural. I suppose it all comes down to your own individual predispositions when it comes to stuff like this. People tend to see what they want to see in situations like this, so they can come to a conclusion that reaffirms their belief or lack thereof. Most of the time it's even happening on a subconscious level, and people don't even realize it.
And naturally, the occurrences begin with a seemingly innocuous Ouija board that the two sisters manage to summon some sort of demonic nun to the house. Those goddamned Ouija boards are at it again, lol. A nun named Valak, that does look admittedly cool, in a creepy kind of way. Valak is even getting her (it's?) own spin-off movie too, so there you go. The Conjuring 2 is a well-made movie, but much like the original Conjuring, it rests on tropes of the genre fairly heavily. No new ground is explored, there are no surprises. It mostly relies on the "based on true events" hook that so many scary movies seem to rely on now.
That's one of the reasons I've never understood all the praise that's been heaped on James Wan as the new 'master of horror' when his movies are all unquestionably trite. I've heard people say that that's what makes his movies so great, that they're so banal, they're refreshing somehow. The true masters of horror rely on innovation and imagination, not on exploitation and predictable visual manipulations. When The Conjuring 2 opened with the Amityville Massacre, I thought that was in pretty poor taste too. Hollywood, yet again, exploiting tragedy and infamy for profit.
As I said before, The Conjuring 2 is a well-made movie. The cinematography was exceptional with its many long tracking shots and minimal editing. The acting was strong, especially from Peggy and Janet (mother and daughter) and some of the visual techniques used to build suspense without relying on jump-scares was commendable. The jump-scares still reared their ugly heads from time to time, but it felt slightly more restrained and earned when it did happen than it usually does in most other scary movies.
I didn't feel like we were given a good sense of time throughout the movie though. If you didn't know the story then you'd think the entire haunting took place over a single weekend, not 2 long years. However the blatant lies of the Warrens involvement in the case was ridiculous when they hardly spent a day there, and they did practically nothing. It was a publicity stunt for them at the time. I understand wanting to exaggerate some details when you're re-telling certain stories, to an extent, but if you're going advertise the movie as a "true story", then you had better get your facts right as best you can. There was no demonic nun, and we don't even know what it wants in the movie. It's just kinda there for the 'scare factor' more than anything else I think. It pops up every now and again for some pretty neat visual scares, but has no real discernible place in the movie. It was never involved in the real story, as it was told back when it happened.
My main gripe with these 'inspired by true events' (which is extremely loose wording) movies is that they tend to be a glorification of the person or people who by all accounts had little, to no actual involvement in the case. James Wan certainly isn't the first to exploit tragedy for profit and fame, and I highly doubt he'll be the last, but he's made a better career out of doing it than most others. As I said above, it all depends what your natural predisposition is, and mine is to be skeptical. After reading a fair amount about this case, the more and more it sounds like bullshit that was almost unquestioningly gobbled up by gullible people at the time who wanted to believe it was true. Proof of the supernatural. In any case, a movie's job is to entertain us, it's not to be a documentary. But I think when said movies are being advertised as 'true stories', then the facts should be adhered to rather strictly.
The worst offender of the purposefully misleading 'true story' tagline recently was 'Deliver Us From Evil' that proclaimed in big, bold red letters that it was "inspired by the actual accounts of an NYPD Sergeant", except it wasn't, not even a little bit. The story written for Deliver Us From Evil was written by screenwriters from scratch. The case wasn't even one that the Sergeant supposedly came across, as the movie and tagline would have you believe. James Wan has made a career from stealing ideas and distorting tragedies into something they weren't. The man's creative abilities probably extend to sifting through the internet to try and find some new tragedy to exploit.
As you can guess, I'm no fan of James Wan. I simply don't like thieves. Now I know there's a big difference between inspiration and theft, but James Wan is a thief, plain and simple. When he's not stealing other people's ideas, he's creatively bankrupt and has to rely on greatly over-exaggerating infamous 'incidents' like these to make a name for himself. Nevertheless, The Conjuring 2 is a decent horror movie. More refined than the original Conjuring I thought, and it was bursting with a dreadful atmosphere. But it really felt too much like an attempt to laud The Warrens as some sort of real life ghost-busting superheroes when they were anything but.
Written by - The Sentry - 30/08/2016