The Conjuring 2
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The Conjuring 2

Contrary to current popular belief, a horror movie does not have to have an excess of blood, viscera, and modesty impaired young women. It was bad enough when psychologically motivated horror film was supplanted by the slasher flick, but now that they’ve moved on to what has colloquially known as torture porn it is so reassuring to see that some filmmakers have realized that is about time to return the traditional elements of horror. Filmmaker, James Wan, was involved in the direction and production of every one of the "Saw’ movies, the flagship of the torture mentioned above porn sub-genre. Fortunately, he must’ve had an epiphany of sorts because of his latest film,’ The Conjuring 2’, harken back to the golden age of horror. He was also the filmmaker behind the first installment of this. Hopefully growing the franchise, ‘The Conjuring,' it has been too long since I’ve watched a film that elicited the exciting sense of fright in its audience. The corollary to this statement is that many fans of the modern incarnation of horror not share this sentiment. The co-authors of the screenplay, Carey and Chad Hayes, have an extensive list of credit encompassing a broad range of genre, including the script for the first film. When a sequel can reunite the director, screenwriters and principal cast members, it has a far better chance of getting a sense of continuity. It also continues the adherence to the psychological approach to the terror that established in the original film. I am reasonably certain that many fans of the current horror tropes will not be enthusiastic about this film. The film does begin with some intense and frightening scenes; they lack the reliance on stage blood and entrails that become de rigueur for currently passes as a horror movie. Those opening shots establish a baseline upon which the filmmaker will continue to build the story. A gory, visceral scene provides an instantaneous jolt of adrenaline which rapidly fades away. In contrast, a movie crafted to be a psychological horror film requires time to penetrate into the dark recesses of your mind. Inserting such strange, frightening images into the deep recesses of your mind permitting the to ruminate. As the film progresses, the images become increasingly intense, building to a truly horrifying conclusion.

The movie does claim to base on true events, so the normal caveat applies; dramatic license is inevitable used. The main characters Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) did exist, and they were well-known investigators of the supernatural, which included performing exorcisms. Since their work is open to the usual skepticism, that caveat also applies. The story was able to remain reasonably close their accounts eating it up to the audience how much to believe. The case that brought the warrants into the public spotlight was one of the most famously documented investigations of a haunted house in America, The Amityville house. The movie opens with a brief glimpse of Lorraine contacting the spirits residing in that house. She would later note that that was as close to hell as she ever wanted to go. Among the myriad of scary images involving the original murderer in the house, Ronald DeFeo Jr. (Mic/hael DeBartolo), was a woman dressed as a nun whose mouth filled with sharply pointed teeth exudes evil. Lorraine screams that the apparition to identify itself, and reveal its name. The movie then quickly moved across the sea to the quaint neighborhood in London. The Hodgson family is about to spiral into the most frightening experiences possible. One of the main requirements of a psychological film is to create a deep connection between the characters in the audience. Painting the characters with a detail-rich fine brush is imperative.

Painting the character with a detail-rich fine brush is imperative. Transforming the characters into realistic human beings. 11-year-old Janet (Madison Wolfe) is seen sitting in the schoolyard with a friend who was smoking a cigarette. As a teacher approaches the friend hands Janet the cigarette so she’s the one who gets in trouble. In a nicely placed touch of irony, her mother, Peggy (Frances O'Connor) is holding a cigarette herself as she chastises her child. Janet is very close to three siblings, particularly her older sister Margaret (Lauren Esposito). The older of the two boys, Johnny (Patrick McAuley), is a white in an obedient child. The youngest boy, Billy (Benjamin Haigh) is the target of brutal teasing by the bullies at school because of a pronounced and debilitating a stutter. Janet is very protective and caring warding off the bullies and helping him with therapy to ameliorate his speech problem.

Following the design of a classic horror film, the supernatural events begin on a very small scale. Billy rolled a toy fire engine into a makeshift teepee and rolled back out on its own. Like a pot of water brought to a boil. The intensity of the evil events increases that a slow yet steady pace. Initially, they dismissed as an object lost, or misplaced but very shortly heavy pieces of furniture are rapidly sliding across the room. An old easy chair in the living room appears to be central to the unnatural occurrences. The investigation of the property revealed the previous owner of the house died in that very chair. The spirit expressed through Janet is obsessed with driving the family out. The circumstances to become so consistently frightening that taking moved the family across the street to the home of her best friend. During one of the manifestations, a pair of constables witnessed the furniture moving.

Leaking the story to the press, and the house soon becomes a media circus depriving the family of any privacy. Lorraine has become so upset after the Amityville investigation that she asked Ed if they could take a break from fieldwork. It is an amateur painter and as it turns out one of his paintings is an image of the demonic nun. Lorraine keeps the meaning of the painting, husband open to let things calm down. When they are asked to investigate the occurrences in England, Lorraine experiences a significant amount of trepidation. Ed is driven by never refusing help to those in need and assures his wife with the ongoing to assess the situation and report back. Once they are in the house and investigating the unnatural occurrence and begin to bond with Janet assuring her that they will help. Once again, the escalation of the paranormal events given time to escalate, allowing them to permeate the audience on a deeply personalized and emotional level. The key to a successful psychological horror is to internalize the events for the audience. The terror does not come so much from what you see but rather how the images in that themselves in your mind. You’re not frightened of a single event but find yourself affected by the cumulative nature of the terror achieving a lasting effect on the viewer instead of the feeding impact of a gruesome tableau.

Every element of this story is woven together with exquisite precision elevating such commonly used tropes and archetypes synergistically into something novel. The primary victim of the story is a young girl shown to be a caring and responsible child. As the story proceeds, we see that our predicament inexorably intertwined with Lorraine. The paranormal researcher has had a premonition of a husband’s death, which adds to her anxiety of accepting new field assignments. Both the woman and the girl are being targeted by a greater evil than anyone realizes. Opening up the film to some subplots that are expertly utilized to prolong the feeling of suspense and ominous mystery. The collective result is a movie that is engrossing, captivating and intensely frightening.

bulletThe Enfield Poltergeist: Living The Horror
bulletThe Conjuring 2: Hollywood#s Haunted Stage
bulletCrafting the Conjuring
bulletCreating Crooked
bulletSounds of Scary
bulletDeleted Scenes

Posted 09/17/2016

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