Story: 4 / 5
Video Quality: 4 / 5
Audio Quality: 5 / 5
Extras: 3 / 5
I’ve seen dozens of horror films this year, but The Conjuring 2 is the scariest one, hands down. The series continues to be a triumph of horror cinema. Now, those who are brave enough are able to bring the scares home.
Horror-meister James Wan works extremely hard to avoid the usual sequel pitfalls in the follow-up to his well-received intimate paranormal investigation horror, The Conjuring. If the original was a quiet, cold and eerie whisper, The Conjuring 2 is a louder, furniture-tossing, and hair-raising Munch scream.
[dropcap]R[/dropcap]eprising their roles as Lorraine and Ed Warren, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as the rosary-wielding paranormal investigators in what has been described as the Warren’s most terrifying case. The story deals with England’s Enfield Haunting — a highly documented 1977 case involving a single mother, Penny Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), her four children and a terrifying entity that targets her 11-year-old daughter, Janet (Madison Wolfe). Their home is haunted by the former homeowner, 72-year-old Bill Wilkins (Bob Adrian), who tells the family over and over, “This is my home!” Meanwhile, Lorraine has visions of a spectral nun and her husband’s death. Are the supernatural claims real? Will the couple be able to save the family and themselves from the nightmare set before them? Is this all the work of the devil or is just a very bad case of puberty?
Wan pulls out all the stops – raucous demons, creaking floors, mysterious slamming doors, haunting sounds, a spine-chilling soundtrack, frightening ouija boards, misbehaving TV sets, terrifying ghouls, noisy walls, creepy voices, spooky antique toys, emotive characters and effortless camera work. However, he doesn’t just tick the boxes, he offers a few new tricks/misdirections to the usual dusty genre cliches. They wouldn’t be true horror films without the gimmicks, but thankfully Wan handles it all with flair. Suspense is his strongest weapon, and The Conjuring 2 lends a lot from it’s older scarier brother The Exorcist.
Gleeful couple Farmiga and Wilson remain the biggest attraction of the franchise. There is something believable and remarkably interesting about the portrayal that captivates audiences. They sell every gasp and emotional pull. For example, Wilson’s Ed serenading the Hodgson family with “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on guitar and vocals in the midst of the horror, is a great way to slow down the pace of the film, make us feel safe and remind audiences that everything is going to be okay. Of course, this all happens just before the horror starts up again.
At more than two hours long, The Conjuring 2 is a step below its predecessor, but it’s still scary. And that’s what counts. You’ll be looking around every dark corner for the rest of your evening. As a horror, it succeeds.
The only way to watch a horror film is in a really dark room. Not surprisingly, The Conjuring 2 requires that – not only for the scares and the mood, but also because the light will glare against its fairly dark picture. The frame is filled with dark greys, blacks and blues which are focused on creating scares rather than clarity. Presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, it’s a dark picture, but for a reason. The Conjuring 2 was shot digitally on an Arri Alexa camera at 2.8k resolution, and so it holds up the clarity even in darker spaces. The details remain distinct. It’s a film that looks good on Blu-Ray.
The Conjuring 2 arrives with a Dolby Atmos track – which is exactly what is needed to make the scares real. Music and sound is key to great horror films and this film takes that very seriously. Moans, creaks, and knocks are well mixed into atmospheric music that transports the viewer into the Hodgson home. The sound design is perfect, crystal and haunting. This is demo quality sound.
After watching the Blu-ray for the first film, I was excited to see if there was a documentary included about the real events. Thankfully, there is. And if you’re really brave, you’ll want to see The Enfield Poltergeist: Living The Horror before watching the film. It makes the film even creepier and more real to you.
Also included on the disk is Crafting The Conjuring 2, a 10-minute featurette with interviews of the cast and crew about making the film. Creating Crooked is probably a bit more exciting as it gives us a better look at the origins of the character from the children’s nursery rhyme which plays a significant part in the film.
The composer Joseph Bishara and others share their thoughts behind the film’s score in The Sounds of Scary.
Overall, there are quite a number of cool extras added to the Blu-ray that will make it worth your while. Sadly, there is no audio commentary from James Wan, but you’ll manage without it.
If you enjoy horror films, The Conjuring 2 should be in your collection. It’s that simple. There is a 4k version of the film coming out soon but, knowing that it was shot in 2k, the Blu-ray should suffice.