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Feel the Fear

James Wan takes North London haunting to the edge in TheConjuring2.

Kim Taylor-Foster

Reporter:

Kim Taylor-Foster

Feel the Fear

The Conjuring2 (15)
Running time 2hr 14 min
Rating ***

DIRECTOR James Wan is the reason the Saw franchise exists. Whether so-called ‘torture porn’ is your thing or it’s just too grisly for your taste, there’s no denying its impact. There’s also no denying the Malaysian talent’s knack for creating films that startle and shock; he’s also the man behind impressive old-school haunted house chillers Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2.

In 2013, Wan extended themes he’d explored in Insidious with The Conjuring, a 1970s-set supernatural horror thriller revolving around paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). In it, the couple attempt to help a family rid themselves of a malevolent spirit at their remote farmhouse. For The Conjuring 2, Wan moves the action to Enfield, 1977, and a real-life haunting reported in the press at the time.

This time, the house is nestled amid rows of other similar residences in the north London borough, but there’s little comfort in the close proximity to others as the family living there is targeted and terrorised by a ghostly presence.

With Lorraine fearful to continue their work following a disturbing vision, she’s reluctant to come to the family’s aid, but her husband persuades her otherwise and they’re drawn into a curious situation where doubt is cast over the authenticity of the haunting.

Without solid evidence there’s little they can do, but they’re committed to helping the terrified family. As things come to a head, Lorraine’s fears about her premonition strengthen and in her desperation, she is at pains to resolve the case.

The film suffers in the first act from bad casting and a not-quite-on-the-button script. Putting middle-class actors with plummy voices into roles that demand ‘working-class’ accents is rarely a good idea – the resulting mockney dialogue is jarring and off-putting. You’re almost cheering on the evil spirits to scare the bejeesus out of them.

Covering off all the typical ghost story and possession movie techniques and motifs, reproducing them with an expert touch, there are genuine chills here. Slow-moving cameras, handheld tracking shots and tension-heavy, drawn-out takes combine with a shrill, piercing soundtrack that jolts, a scary old man, demonic voices and a boogeyman who looks like Marilyn Manson to add up to regular back-of-the-neck prickles.

Rooted in truth and anchored to the famous Amityville haunting too, The Conjuring 2 has an edge that other copycat flicks fail to chisel
out.

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