One of the things I get blasted for more than anything in regards to movie reviews is my willingness to review Horror. There is no doubt, horror of all genres, is often the most misunderstood, and most unliked, especially among the Christian crowd. This is largely not true among the regular person attending movies though as is evidenced by the large box office numbers put up by Horror Films. One of the baffling concepts of this to me over the years has been the reality that most Horror Films address spiritual themes like no other genre. This is especially true in the realm of possession movies which include the influence of the Demonic within haunting types of movies whether it be possessions or poltergeist forms of a movie. The difference being a haunting can and usually does involve possessions of people or others that last over a period of over a year, and normally poltergeist types of movies lasting for no more than a few months.
The Conjuring 2 is a continuation of sorts from the initial Conjuring which involves a haunting of a home, and family and its investigation by popular researchers, Ed and Loraine Warren. The Warren’s are among the only people who were not Catholic, ever recognized by the Catholic Church for paranormal investigations. This story takes place after their investigation of the popular Amityville case in the United States. After what some has said is the most researched case in history, the Warrens are called to research a family and haunting in London England, known historically as, The Enfield Haunting which involved a mother, her two daughters, and a son in a flat in London. The family begins to experience paranormal activity and the uniqueness of this story, as in real life, the family immediately goes to neighbors once the events start happening and the neighbors see and experience the same things. The family calls in the police that night who also report in their documentation of the case that they as well experienced paranormal events that were unexplainable.
One of the things that make the Conjuring 2 in some ways better than the original Conjuring is that there is better story telling. Don’t get me wrong here, the Hayes Brothers, responsible for the script in both the Conjuring and Conjuring 2 did an exceptional job in the first movie, but there is much more plot development and especially character development in this story which at times is as much of a love story between the Warrens as it is a haunting experience. It is clear though the Hayes Brothers who are both unapologetically Christian, have a lot of material to work with regarding the real life Warren’s and their work due to their own Christian-oriented beliefs, whether they be traditional beliefs or not. Another aspect they have to work within this film is a film that depends on more on its characters than it does its scary moments, of which it also has ample moments.
The cast in the Conjuring 2 is terrific! Patrick Wilson, (Ed Warren) and Vera Farmiga, (Loraine Warren) are both back and as terrific as ever, especially Vera Farmiga in this film, but the scene stealer for the film is Madison Wolfe who plays the part of young Janet Hodgson. It is unfortunate that this movie falls into the Summer Movie category and is a Horror Film, otherwise, this young actress, in my opinion, does such a terrific job that it would be horrific if she is not at the very least considered for numerous awards in the supporting actress category. She plays the part in such a believable way that it does nothing but adds to the intelligence behind this movie. There is also a haunting and at times, a funny sound score for the film along with terrific editing and direction by James Wan. The film has received such critical praise prior to release that there is already talk of a sequel to the film, of which there would be no problem as there are numerous stories involving Warren’s research. Word is that the Hayes Brothers have already signed on for the sequel and that Wan is considering it.
One of the aspects of the film that challenged me was my thought process specific to how many Christians ignore or even go so far as to hate this type of movie, when reality is, especially in this film and with this script, faith, specific to the person of Jesus Christ is so strongly presented. We see for example the usage of the cross in some way in virtually every image in the film, yet we also see the difference between the reminder of the cross, to the use of the cross from a nonbeliever’s perspective and the perspective of a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. It reminds me of the old Stephen King Movie, Silver Bullet when a vampire is presented with a cross and the vampire tells the person showing it that the cross only does good if the person believes in it.
The film also strongly addresses the areas of faith, calling and visions. We see the Warrens as two people who are passionately in love with each other, have a deep faith in God, but also a deep love and appreciation for each other who happen to believe that God speaks to them via various means including at times for Loraine, visions. They see those visions as not only something that could happen but possibly as things that they are called to change and beware of. Of course, the film depends largely on people believing in the possibility of the demonic and paranormal as it is presented as a true story. That said while many choose to believe in Angels there seems to be a reluctance to believe in the Demonic, this seems to be at times especially hypocritical of those people of faith who present all a one sided good story without ever considering the reality of evil. I can’t help but bring up a discussion I had years ago with the popular Christian author Ted Dekker, he stated that “Evil painted with anything but the darkest of brushes is not a true representation of evil.” The Hayes Brothers paints a dark brush, but thankfully, also understands the power of light and the ultimate power of God to overcome evil.
For me, this movie was not as scary as The Conjuring, but it was, because of its powerful storytelling and direction, better than its predecessor. I recommend that people who go see it don’t just go for the scare tactics but look at the underlying themes in the movie, the love between a husband and a wife, their willingness to sacrifice for their fellow human, their desire to do what they believe God has called them to do, no matter how difficult it is to do it. Then, of course, there are the other themes, as to the power of the cross in the hands of one who believes in it, the influence of how the Demonic will often attack others to gain its own purpose and much more. I don’t think the film will be too upsetting to those attending the movie, I also expect this movie will have the potential to point people to the power of God. The Hayes Brothers have done such a terrific job of weaving a story under the direction of James Wan that one can’t help but get something spiritual out of it.
One a scale of 1 – 10, for the number of letters in the hauntings’ investigated by Ed and Loraine Warren, I give a very deserving 9.
Watch the trailer.