So while technically the third (I believe) movie made in the ever-growing The Conjuring universe, it is, as of now, the 7th movie in the chronology. As with most of the movies, there are some references to “real” things and the Warren’s involvement in them, but as with the other movies, there is a lot of stretching the truth. Still, it is heavily focused on an interesting case, albeit one that the Warrens weren’t really involved in, and a well-done movie overall.
For some background, in the 1970s, two girls claimed that they were being haunted, and extensive research went into it. At first, the case garnered a lot of attention because there was a lot of “evidence” to prove the haunting. Pictures that people claimed made it look like one of the girls was being levitated, and vocal recordings that a young girl “could not possibly fake” were among the key pieces that people were caught up in… at first. Eventually, as more people got excited to investigate the case, it began to fall apart and eventually was written off by many as a hoax.
The Warrens (although not actually welcome on the case, so had limited contact) and other people in the paranormal world never believed that. I am a skeptic myself, but honestly, whether it was real or not is not as important to me (there are other cases the Warrens were involved in where I do think their involvement was a bad thing, but that is for another time).
In the movie, The Conjuring 2, most of the activity is focused on Janet, the second oldest of four children in a struggling family. Her father has left them, and her mother believes that she is acting out because of it, thus writing off most of the activity she claims to be experiencing. Janet’s mother eventually witnesses an event herself, up until that point only the kids had and calls for help. Many people start to get involved, although not all, well-intentioned.
Meanwhile, Ed and Lorraine are struggling with a lot of the press and media as a result of their involvement with the Amityville case. Lorraine also has disturbing visions on the case and wants them to stop working. When the church approaches, the Warrens Lorraine agrees only to go if they observe and not try to get involved. Of course, they don’t stick to that plan as they slowly come to care for the family more and are confused by the events.
So let’s get it out of the way right now, The Conjuring Part 2 jumps into that “universe building, sequel introducing” trap a little bit. It is heavily focused on “the nun” character, The Nun, later releasing in 2018. It also makes a lot of references to The Crooked Man, which has been announced, but details are limited. It is not as bad as Annabelle Comes Home, which was a lot of “here’s some creepy stuff we might do a movie about one day,” but it’s something that is there in the movie.
I find myself sort of mixed on how I feel about this. On the one hand, it helped develop Ed and Lorraine’s characters more to have the movie not be focused just on the haunting. On the other hand, the time spent away from Enfield can feel a bit like a side quest in a long video game. I will say that the nun character was integrated better into The Conjuring 2’s story than some of the universe building in other movies I have seen.
I don’t know that the Amityville bit was necessary at all, other than to establish that at this point, the Warrens were becoming more public figures, but as it wasn’t totally developed, I think it could have been left alone. It felt kind of put in as a “we realize we have to address Amityville at some point but aren’t going to rehash it,” which is fair.
Aside from my hiccups with the story, this movie is actually rather good. Janet is a sympathetic character, and I think the development of Ed and Lorraine was nice. For all my opinions of them in real life, the film versions are awesome.
The horror is pretty well done with heavy levels of suspense. Some of it can be a bit predictable, but nothing so bad that I was unhappy watching it. I will say, however, that this movie was kind of low on fear. The Conjuring movies (that I have seen) have always felt a bit… weird for me.
They are decidedly not kids movies, all of them being rated R with a few pretty intense (for kids) moments, but they almost feel that way? The horror feels… safer than a lot of movies. They honestly feel to me like borderline kid-friendly horror rather than intense supernatural horror.
This is not exactly a complaint, though. They do once again have well-developed characters and stories. They try to emphasize the mystery of discovering what is going on, something I love and think they can even lean harder into, as well as some cool and interesting scenes with hauntings. But the intensity that you sometimes want in a horror movie is not as present. This doesn’t make them entirely unscary or, again, bad, just different. It’s also nice to dive into something that, while you know, will give you a few scares and thrills, is less likely to really “traumatize” you. I actually rather enjoy coming to this franchise when I want something better than, say, dumb but fun scary movies but maybe don’t want to go full tilt.
It also doesn’t hurt that the slightly lessened intensity feels intentional. These movies feel like they are made to be more approachable by a wider audience, so it doesn’t read as a failure to deliver anything.
The acting was well done, once again with the difficult task of more than a few young actors. I will admit that I didn’t follow Patrick Wilson or Vera Farmiga much, but these movies have made me a fan.
The visuals are well done though there are a few moments that felt a bit “too much”, but it works well overall with the experience.
Bottom line? Honestly, there is little for me to complain about. The story hiccups don’t have a negative impact as much as I think some of it doesn’t fit right. The acting, audio, visuals, all well done. There is some decent suspense and fear, even if less intense. These are never going to be my favorite movies, and they aren’t even the best haunting movies. This one, however, is good, one I think is worth a watch. I would almost recommend it more to non-genre fans, though, maybe those that like to dip their toes in horror but don’t want to dive fully in.