Ghost busters in scary movie

Countryman

FILM

The Conjuring 2

Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga

DIRECTOR JAMES WAN

REVIEW RAY CHAN

In this day and age, hardened critics and even not-so-jaded moviegoers will find it hard to be genuinely terrified by horror offerings. With many of the current generation having grown up with zombies, vampires, scary monsters and other super creeps on the TV screen and in video games, the use of rubber masks and prosthetics, no matter how gory or demonic they may appear, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

And so it falls on directors to resort to familiar old-school scares and suspense-laden scenes to impart any sort of effective shock treatment, and in this regard, Australian director James Wan certainly excels, with his latest effort providing genuine moments of fright so that the audience keeps investing in the storyline.

The Conjuring 2 brings back the paranormal team of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), who have been in semi-retirement after investigating several high-profile cases, including the Rhode Island haunting upon which the first movie was based.

Such is their fame that a new suspected disturbance in England brings forth a call for their services, much to the dismay of Lorraine, who has had recent visions of her husband’s death while hunting demons.

They travel to the small town of Enfield, where Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), struggling to maintain a home as a single mother of four children, finds further discomfiture when the ghost of an old man begins to terrorise the residence. The demonic presence specifically targets her youngest daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe), who is subject to a wide variety of terrors – ranging from waking up in the living room instead of her bed, to being physically attacked and bitten.

Wan, already renowned for his various horror movie franchises, certainly reminds us why the genre has been his home for so many years, with the camera rarely kept stagnant, and the audience constantly fearing what may be lurking just beyond the range of the lens.

And there is welcome light to complement the darkness of the storyline, something missing from the initial movie. Whether it’s Janet’s teacher bumming a smoke, Peggy’s put-downs of her ex-husband, or Ed entertaining the kids with an Elvis tune on the guitar, these little passages provide welcome relief and, in effect, almost work to lull the audience into false comfort before being subjected to the next big surprise.

Wan also brings a new dimension of emotion to this movie, by exploring the romantic bond between the Warrens, and also the familial bonding of the Hodgsons. In the end, the audience can’t help but root for these protagonists as they strive to exorcise the spirits, while hoping that Lorraine’s premonition doesn’t come true.

The Conjuring 2 demonstrates incredible potential for a possible emerging franchise – particularly when you consider that the Warrens have claimed that their career together as investigators spanned more than 10,000 cases.

If this sequel is anything to go by, that is a mouth-watering notion. This tense and yes, scary, movie surpasses its flaws with excellent performances, a solid story, and great technique.

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