The 2013 film The Conjuring was a chilling hit when it was first released, and fans have been chattering their teeth for a sequel since. With James Wan‘s The Conjuring 2, their (death) wishes are granted.
The movie, which is based on true events, is set in 1977 Britain as the Hodgson family is relentlessly and raucously tormented by an unseen, hellish force. The eerie events that transpire grip the nation and thrust the family into the limelight. But no member of the family experiences attention, from the menacing force itself or the curious public, as much as 11-year-old Janet (Madison Wolfe). For reasons unknown, Janet becomes the target of the presence and is employed as the mouthpiece for what is eventually referred to as the Enfield Poltergeist (or the spirit of Bill Wilkins, a man who died in the home years earlier).
As an investigation is launched into the disturbing activities, the services of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are sought. The pair travel from the U.S. to London, where they confront the evil presence and try to restore peace in the Hodgson home.
Tribute team members Marriska Fernandes, Brandon Hurd, Dan Porter and Matthew Pariselli attended an advance screening of the film and chatted about their thoughts…
Matthew: The film is, without a doubt, full of chilling components to discuss. But first, it’s worth mentioning that the movie has to step out of the daunting shadow cast by its mother. The Conjuring was hugely successful and fans have high standards for this sequel. Did you walk into the theater with any particular expectations?
Marriska: I had huge expectations for this sequel as The Conjuring is one of my top favorite horror movies to date. I was certainly hoping that James Wan, who helmed hits like Saw and Insidious, would continue to give us the heebie-jeebies with spine-tingling scenes. And boy, was I pleased – I jumped out of my seat quite a few times.
Dan: Whenever you hear about a sequel to a horror film, there’s always a bit of hesitation. You always want to hope it betters its predecessor. That being said, I was also pleasantly surprised. From the first initial scenes to the ending credits, I found myself asking for more. My expectations were definitely met. Those quiet moments and the creepy sequences of events really kept me on the edge of my seat. The fact that it has origins of truth to it adds to the overall creepiness of the film.
Brandon: I went into the theater with low expectations because I’m not a fan of the first film. For me, it was so similar to other movies coming out at the same time. In the sense that a hero discovers creepy paranormal phenomena, scary events ensue, someone gets possessed, the hero solves the problem and then the credits roll. It seemed to be a cookie cutter recipe and I wasn’t really into it. So I figured I wouldn’t enjoy this film. But I was very pleasantly surprised.
Matthew: Yes, even though I think The Conjuring 2 adhered to that formula to a degree, it did take a few risks and throw in a few surprises. I also enjoyed the quieter aspects to the film. I always find those to be the most suspenseful. The use of sound was actually a highlight for me (and I include the choice to keep things silent). The original score, the songs employed (hello, The Clash!) and the general soundscape made for an immersive experience.
Marriska: The quiet moments are key. I loved how the filmmakers used those simple moments to deliver the best, most terrifying moments in the film. It’s what the audience least expects and the movie takes advantage of those perfect timings.
Brandon: Sound is the biggest part of any movie! Imagine this film with a comical score and no creepy ambiance. It would take the creepy vibe out of it entirely. This movie’s sound design was amazing. On another note, a problem I often have with horror films is the excruciating amount of build-up. I get that we need to learn the world of the story, but do it in a scary way, and thankfully The Conjuring 2 did this perfectly. It was scary and tense right off the bat while it built the world and the characters.
Marriska: That’s interesting, because I wish the first half of the movie moved a bit faster. I felt like the pace was slow in the beginning. It’s almost an hour before the Warrens and the Hodgson family actually meet.
Matthew: I also feel it dragged a bit at the beginning, but I appreciate that the filmmakers created a bridge between the first film and the sequel. It took time to get the wheels turning (read: demons rising), but it established that connection. Now let’s talk performances. The actors really had their work cut out for them, especially Madison Wolfe. Her role demanded a lot and she showed impressive diversity and range. What did you think of the acting in the film?
Brandon: I’d say Madison was the strongest. Her acting paired with the costume, hair and makeup allowed her to be unrecognizable from pictures I’ve seen of her online.
Marriska: Casting Madison in the role of the possessed kid was a brilliant move. She’s an emerging actress who showcased her acting skill with such authenticity, making her role believable. I would also add that Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson were the glue that elevated the film’s success. They were incredible as Ed and Lorraine.
Dan: I think the feelings of dread really come to the forefront when you see Madison acting. The unknown force that’s haunting her is something that keeps the audience guessing for the majority of the film. James Wan really hits a home run by leaving the viewer wondering — is there life after death?
Matthew: I hope there is life after death! Heavenly or hellish, I like the thought. Speaking of hellishness, the film roped in some rich satanic imagery that I also enjoyed. When religion is brought into the equation to help inspire fear, I’m usually all about it and the filmmakers here did a nice job of weaving that material through the story.
Brandon: Agreed. Spooky nun demon lady was amazing.
Matthew: As much as I loved her, though, there were aspects of the writing I could have done without. Some of the moments between Ed and Lorraine were way too cheesy for my liking.
Brandon: I think that was done to get the audience to care more about their relationship and therefore make the ending more impactful. Too cheesy, but in my opinion necessary because the audience has to care about the characters and their relationships.
Marriska: I also loved the comic relief thrown in every now and then. That’s James Wan’s signature, and he made sure to infuse the film with lighter moments and side jokes that I always enjoy.
Dan: I appreciated some of the ironic comments, and I felt the whole audience did too. Overall, I was entertained and I could sense that the audience was (I think everyone jumped in the same spots).
Marriska: I know I was jumping! As a horror movie fanatic, I’d say this movie earns major brownie points on my must-watch horror list. I’m already working on my Halloween costume – that was one creepy demonic nun.
Matthew: I thought she looked pretty chic. Ha! Okay, final grades are due. What are you blessing The Conjuring 2 with?
Dan: I give it 8 and a half screams out of 10, a solid A.
Brandon: I give it 8 and a half scary nuns out of 10, also an A.
Matthew: I give it 7 and a half upside-down crosses out of 10, good enough for a B.
Marriska: I bless this film with an unholy 999, a demonic A.
Once you’ve taken a trip back to 1977 with the Warrens, please return from demonville and rate The Conjuring 2 by clicking here.