The Conjuring 2

 

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After the horrors of Amityville, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren are drawn to a 

haunting across the Atlantic – in north London.

  
Conjuring 2, The

The laughs engendered by The Conjuring 2 are presumably not intentional. After all, the film’s events are drawn from the true story of the 11-year-old Janet Hodgson who was possessed by a demonic force. Paranormal investigator Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) informs us that such entities “like to feed on emotional stress.” And single mum Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor) and her four young children have suffered their share of misery. Besides residing in the dirtiest house in Enfield, they’re stuck on the breadline while Peggy’s ex is gallivanting around with a woman from up the street. It’s grim up north – in this case north London – and the array of accents are liberally plucked from the Dick Van Dyke school of phonetics. There’s more humour from Simon McBurney as the paranormal gumshoe Maurice Grosse in full Groucho Marx make-up (previously played by Timothy Spall in last year’s The Enfield Haunting). And the period detail – the events occurred in 1977 – is laid on with a JCB, complete with The Goodies on TV and laugh-out-loud poster of David Soul.

 

The director James Wan – he who brought us Saw, Insidious and the original The Conjuring (2013) – lays on the clichés with his magic wand: the dripping tap, creaking swing set, sudden bangs and apparitions, you name it. And the trouble with clichés is that they rob cinema of the credibility of fear. There’s plenty of scary stuff in real life – madness, death, domestic abuse, alcoholism, burning houses, Alzheimer’s, the EU Referendum – but the horror genre seems jammed on ‘haunted house’ mode, a conceit inherently hard to pull off (unless one has had one’s own supernatural visitation). Here, the black walls and peeling furniture of the Hodgsons’ abode just doesn’t ring true.

 

Having said all that, The Conjuring 2 is not without its moments of suspense and shocks but for a horror film running at 134 minutes, they’re pretty few and far between. The most hair-raising moments occur after the close of play, when photographs of the real house and Hodgson family members accompany the closing credits. Obviously real people did have a hell of a bad time. A spin-off is in development.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente, Lauren Esposito, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Bob Adrian, Emily Tasker.

 

Dir James Wan, Pro Peter Safran, Rob Cowan and James Wan, Screenplay James Wan, Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes and David Leslie Johnson, Ph Don Burgess, Pro Des Julie Berghoff, Ed Kirk M. Morri, Music Joseph Bishara, Costumes Kristin M. Burke.

 

New Line Cinema/The Safran Company/Atomic Monster/RatPac-Dune Entertainment-Warner Brothers. 134 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 13 June 2016. Cert. 15.