In 2013, The Conjuring transported us back to the golden age of horror. It seemed to come straight from the era of The Exorcist and Poltergeist, employing practical effects and embedding otherworldly elements in an ordinary setting. It’s also a horror film with heart — one that never loses sight of the human drama amid the supernatural scares.
The Conjuring 2 won’t send the same shiver of movie magic up your spine, but it’s a solid sequel with plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
Cut to Enfield, England circa 1977. A poor single mother named Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) finds her dilapidated home haunted by its previous owner — a cruel, creepy old man. After the typical signs of a poltergeist — beds shaking, chairs flying — her daughter, Janet (Madison Wolfe), becomes possessed by the angry, elderly spirit. But Ed and Lorraine believe that something far more sinister is lurking in the shadows. Soon, a demon dressed in a nun’s habit emerges, and we wonder if it came from a Marilyn Manson look-alike contest.
The Conjuring 2 has lots of fun jump scares — the kind that make you gasp and giggle like you would on a haunted hayride. And like the first film, it has poignant, heartfelt moments as well. To a greater degree than the original, this one shows the power of Ed and Lorraine’s love and how it keeps them sane in the midst of mystical madness.
Wilson and Farmiga deliver strong performances, but Wolfe is the true standout with her tender, often heartbreaking turn as Janet — a quiet girl forced to grow up quickly and confront a dark world she doesn’t understand.
In the end, this is an engaging but somewhat watered-down version of The Conjuring. You certainly won’t lose much sleep over it, but you’ll have a good time gripping your theater chair armrest in terror.
Rated R, Now showing in wide release