This year’s follow-up to 2013’s hugely successful (and largely entertaining) movie “The Conjuring” suffers from sequel-itis. Like most sequels, “The Conjuring 2” feels both overblown and unnecessary.
The film industry knows from experience that good horror movies can be made economically. Even for wide release movies, most budgets are miniscule when compared to typical Hollywood fare. This economy of budget has forced genre filmmakers to be more creative and innovative in their storytelling. These small, tight stories that focus on building suspense and scares, coupled with a judicious use of special effects, has resulted in some truly great and scary movies (see: “Saw,” “The Blair Witch Project,” “Halloween,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and many others).
“The Conjuring” was a bit of an anomaly. With a comparatively large budget of $20M, New Line made back twice that in the opening weekend alone. Now, with “The Conjuring 2,” the studio doubled-down with the budget (reportedly at $40M) but the film itself proves that more is not always better.
Everything in “The Conjuring 2” is more. A 30-minute longer runtime. More special effects. More plot. More bumps in the night. More jump scares. But frankly, in this movie more is too much.
The film’s pacing suffers as a result of its overblown length. A whole, whole lot of screen time is devoted to the heroes of the first movie, Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson). But frankly, as characters they’re not that compelling. We go to see movies like this one to be scared, and way too much time is spent on story lines that aren’t very scary (or interesting, for that matter).
When we do get to the scares, I’m sorry to say that the movie suffers on that account, as well. This is essentially a haunted house movie that follows all of the predictable tropes (once you see the house, you basically know what is going to happen) but still delivers some effective atmospheric shots. The problem is that the film reveals way too early the nature of the spirit haunting the house, and by knowing what is doing the haunting, much of the terror is sapped from it. When we finally get to the big climactic confrontation, there is so much much gobbledygook nonsense thrown in to explain the whys and hows, and we are so worn down by the overlong and bloated plot, that it’s hard to really care about the characters anymore and whether any of them live or die.
It’s not all a waste. There are some really inventive scares here (I especially loved “The Crooked Man”). Madison Wolfe, the actress who plays the main girl (Janet Hodgson) is a talented actress that does a beautiful job (and acts the rest of them, including Wilson and Farmiga, under the table). But I can’t help thinking that if they had cut this down by about 40 minutes, it could have been so much better.
Louisa was unavailable for review.