Two members of Popspoken‘s editorial team hide under the covers as they preview a film that has a chance of becoming horror film history’s highest grosser since The Exorcist.
The Conjuring 2’s compelling pre-launch trailer drew would-be consumers to box offices, through an unnerving reminder that this film is based on real events that happened in Enfield, England.
A preview clip of knocks, bumps and eerie images might sell a fantastically written paranormal film very well, if this were the 80s or 90s. In our modern society that has instant access to a bottomless pit of real, unstaged gore, horror genre aficionados scoff at clichés like CGI, inhuman makeup and supernatural powers. Instead, The Conjuring 2’s trailer featured a short interview with the Hodgsons, who were the world-famous Enfield haunting’s victims.
Approximately 120 years old, the horror genre of film has been scratching on the inside of its cocoon, yearning to evolve to its next stratum. Malaysian-born Australian filmmaker James Wan, is the crypt-keeper with the keys to take it there.
Saw, his mainstream debut, left a thought-provoking impression on our jaded generation of cinemagoers. Much more so than other horror films, Saw made its audience members realise that its nightmarish scenarios were much more likely to befall them than those of any other horror film.
Many a filmmaker are drawn to trying his or her hand at making a horror or ghost flick, but most fail via erroneous choices of framing and pacing, and end up with an intense thriller at best, in their cans. This fate however, has not befallen Wan.
Evidently a relentless student of various genres of filmmaking, Wan captained the seventh instalment of Fast & Furious in between filming episodes of The Conjuring and Insidious, where he toyed with numerous styles of filming that introduced added perspectives and intensity to car chases. Virtually every highly rated horror film over the last six years was directed by him.
The Conjuring 2 barrages its viewers with an incessant slew of terrifying scenes, in which mad scientist Wan tests how many twisted new ways there are to scare a cinema audience.
Besides experimenting with new cuts and angles, The Conjuring 2 is also elevated by the acting of captivating leads Patrick Wilson, who differentiates his Ed Warren character from Insidious’s Josh Lambert character primarily through bushy 70s sideburns, and the endearing Vera Farmiga, who also has the uncanny ability to replicate the expression of a corpse or wax statue.
I’ve survived a near-terminal illness, walked through 40°C sandstorms, trekked through frostbite and lived in man-eating jungles, yet The Conjuring managed to scare me out of my socks, because it does what a good film is supposed to do – drag you into the screen and make you feel what its characters are feeling.
Although The Conjuring 2 was a thrilling experience for me, I felt relieved nonetheless when it ended, and I wouldn’t surprised if other audience members had relieved themselves in the theatre during its preview screening. The Conjuring 2 is like the classmate or colleague who never runs out of heart-stopping prank ideas; the kind of guy whose pranks would make its recipient not want to him for a few days.
The trailer that left an impact on me was the elaborate prank that the crew designed for a Brazilian television show. The Conjuring 2’s set designers worked laboriously to produce a satanic-looking room inspired by Janet Hodgson’s bedroom, in which they scared poor caretakers out of their wits with flashing lights, self-animating furniture, a hissing girl who levitates from her bed and a demonic nun who smashes out of a cupboard to confront the unfortunate babysitter. I wonder what the crew had to do to get those poor ladies to sign release forms!
The Conjuring 2 will give even the most seasoned horror movie buff some worthy scares. The soundtrack I feel played a huge part in creating an ominous atmosphere. The pace of the movie is great, and I really liked how they alternated the focus between the victims, the Hodgsons, and the ghostbusters, the no less afflicted Warrens.
James Wan found several different ways to scare the moviegoer, among which I found the appearance of the old man in the reflection of the television screen when it suddenly went off, the most shocking. Viewers will definitely have a fun time pleading for The Conjuring 2’s characters to not go in pursuit of a flickering image or a bump in the night.
Is Janet Hodgson’s channelling of a malevolent poltergeist just a hoax or deathly real? Join Ed and Lorraine Warren in their investigations if you dare, but Wan promises you that this hellish ride will offer no respite.
Directed by James Wan
Running time: 133 minutes
Rating: 4/5 stars