It was Wednesday, June 8th, 2016. The time was approximately 6:55 pm. I sat in a half empty theatre with a few friends as we await a special advanced screening of James Wan’s sequel to his critically acclaimed “masterpiece”, The Conjuring. I will honestly say that I was more curious than excited. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Conjuring movie and I seem to be the only one with those feelings. I found the “haunting/possession” genre to be oversaturated before it even became huge again. Prior to this past week I had only seen The Conjuring once and I had watched it with a chip on my shoulder to begin with. I went into the flick not wanting to like it and that’s exactly what happened. When I received a text from a friend stating he had an advanced screening ticket with my name on it I knew I had to re-watch the first one with an open mind. After a second viewing I have come to appreciate the film for what it was. It was a very well done, and at times chilling, haunted house period piece. James Wan does a great job placing you into whatever specific time period he desires. The tension building in that movie is phenomenal and there’s a payoff to every jump scare. No “cheapies” to be found. As for the sequel I had set my expectations fairly low. I knew we were going to get another “haunting/possession” movie and I knew it would be well done with James Wan back behind the camera. So how did this “London set” sequel stack up against the beloved original?
As soon as the movie let out the first thing I did was message the ‘Icon Vs Icon’ crew, “That movie was fantastic. I honestly think it was way better than the first one”. Those are my true feelings. The acting is phenomenal, the atmosphere is incredible, and the effects haunting. I went in expecting a typical possession movie with the hauntings getting gradually worse and worse. My expectations were blown away.
We begin our story with the Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) investigating the famous Amityville case. The way this is done is masterful and bone chilling. I don’t want to give too much away because this is probably my favorite part of the flick next to the “creature” appearances. Leaving the Amityville case we see that there is a chilling entity that has latched itself onto the Warrens. I will now be referring to this villain as “Manson Nun” as it honestly looks like Marilyn Manson dressed as a nun. Manson Nun begins to, for lack of a better term, scare the hell out of Lorraine Warren; to the point where she refuses to take on any more cases. We are now in London where the Hodgson family, specifically daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe), are dealing with an entity of their own. Thankfully we didn’t get the horror movie trope of no one believing the child. As soon as a character says “you’re crazy, nothing is happening”, the metaphorical shit hits the fan. Madison Wolfe does a fantastic job playing the creepy possessed middle child, Janet Hodgson.
Now, as stated, I can’t explain too much but I will say that there are three different “antagonistic characters” that make life a living hell for both the Hodgsons and the Warrens. There’s one “entity” that spawns specifically from an old child’s nursery rhyme. I would love a full movie that covers this character alone. Now that’s what made this “haunted house” movie so different from others. I felt like at times it became less possession and more of a monster flick. That’s what I want more of, monster movies. This movie helped with that, as did March’s 10 Cloverfield Lane.
If it wasn’t apparent beforehand, James Wan knows what he’s doing when it comes to horror. Even when it may not be my “cup of tea” I can recognize genius when I see it. These movies are well executed and damn near perfect in what they’re trying to do. I look forward to the follow up movies, which there will definitely be. If anything, this movie made me more excited for the Wan produced, “Lights Out” adaptation of the short film with the same name. Get out there and support great horror!
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason Voorhees emerging from the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the crowds at pop culture events up and down the east coast. You love him and he loves you!