The Conjuring 2, or, Where Would Horror be without Ridiculous White People?

The suspense-filled sequel to The Conjuring is based upon the famous Enfield Haunting, which was considered England’s Amityville, writes Georgia Mueck. 

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead.

For this round in our favourite game, ‘Let’s go investigate that scary noise that will probably lead to our death’, white people once again keep the supernatural horror genre alive by having no common sense whatsoever.

Now don’t get me wrong, this was overall quite a good film, and I might go so far as to say that it is as good as it’s award-winning predecessor. James Wan, who directed The Conjuring, maintains his mantle as an innovator of classic and modern horror by playing on the skepticism of the real-life events on which the film is based, and by using a child-like perspective of fear to terrorise the audience.

The film details the story of the Hodgson family, who claimed to be terrorised by a poltergeist in Enfeild, England from 1977 to 1979. Known as England’s Amityville, the supposed haunting at Enfield centred around 11 year-old Janet Hodgson, who is played by Madison Wolfe in the film, and her 13 year-old sister Margaret, played by Lauren Esposito. The case was considered by many to be a clever hoax constructed by the two sisters, however there were those, such as paranormal investigator, Maurice Grosse, played by Simon McGurney, who believed it to be a legitimate haunting. Safe to say in The Conjuring 2 the paranormal activity occurring in the house is all too real. 

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as Ed and Lorraine Warren, the demonologist husband and wife team from The Conjuring. The pair retain the sincere and believable chemistry that was present in the first film, and it’s refreshing to see an on-screen couple that doesn’t have some sort of marital drama as a central point in their relationship sub-plot. Lorraine is being terrorised by an entity in the form of a nun/death-metal enthusiast that she first encountered while investigating the American Amityville haunting. As a professional demon hunter, she apparently sees nothing wrong with bringing an evil demon along with her to an already haunted house. Did I mention the demon is a nun? Why? Well, there is a tenuous explanation related to testing Lorraine’s faith and what not, but let’s be honest, it was probably just done cause it’s creepy as heck. 

The Warrens go to England to investigate the legitimacy of the Hodgson family’s case, where they become close with Mrs Hodgson and her four children. Frances O’Connor delivers a fairly convincing performance as Peggy Hodgson, the single mother whose frustration at trying to keep her family together in their run down council home lends a relatable and sympathetic note to the story. The performances of the younger actors, especially Madison Wolfe, were compelling enough, although they did at times appear to be somewhat desensitised to what was happening to them, such as when Janet has a full-on encounter with a malevolent spirit and then goes right back to normal in the next scene.

As far as scares go, there are plenty of them. The Conjuring 2 does use most of the typical horror-movie/jump-scare tropes in the book, but it uses them to good effect, as well as finding new, innovative ways to sew dread into the narrative. There is a slow building sinister feel to the film; much of the horror that occurs is rooted in the way that the children feel fear. This is especially effective at creating suspense, although it can get tedious at times. There’s only so long I can sit there with spine-tingling violins sawing away to create a ‘suspenseful’ atmosphere, while I also wait for the scary monster to maybe, possibly, perhaps show up. One downfall of this film was that the scares were almost entirely predictable, including the ones that were preceded by red-herring/potential scares.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the film, however, is the typical ‘Stupid White People/Let’s Investigate’ trope. I say white people because the trend of nonsensical decision-making in horror movies, in fact the casting in horror movies in general, is predominantly white. And boy do they make some stupid decisions. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I heard loud, terrifying noises that were likely made by some kind of demonic entity my last inclination would be to grab my trusty torch and walk through my completely dark house (apparently no one knows how to turn lights on in these films) to investigate the source, especially if I was an 11 year-old child who had previously been harassed by said entity. And yet, what should little Janet do when an ominous creaking sound comes from downstairs but scurry on down to check it out. Same goes for her little brother, and even for Lorraine, the demon-hunter, who for some reason thinks following the creepy nun when it just randomly appears in her house is a better alternative to, oh I don’t know, getting the heck out of there! I suppose the rest of us can take comfort in knowing that supernatural entities only haunt overly-curious, idiotic people who have no sense of self-preservation.

So, to recap, let’s go through the Horror Movie Checklist that I just invented:

Suspenseful music is suspensful? Check!

Creepy goth-looking demon/sprirt because reasons? Check!

Heart-warming moment affirms family values? Check!

Why leave the haunted house when we could just…stay!? Check!

If you’re a fan of the genre, The Conjuring 2 is for you. It has plenty of scares for the adrenalin junkies, and has an excellent storyline to accompany the thrills.

4/5

Feature Image: The Conjuring 2, imdb.

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