The Conjuring 2: Jump Cut Horror
James Wan conjures yet another creepy movie which compulsively plays on your nerves
Devika Sharma Delhi
The maverick of creepy stories, James Wan returned with his new gripping horror ride, The Conjuring 2. The Conjuring, which released in the summer of 2013, was an exceptional beast: a retro horror that performed like a mega hit and was also praised by film critics.
With the inevitable follow-up, Wan repeats the form and core plot. It’s remarkably well crafted and unremittingly frightening, in parts. It’s as well directed as its prequel, but the location is different enough to make it distinctive from the first.
Conjuring 2 is yet another log from the files of Lorraine and Ed Warren, the real-life couple who saw recognition as paranormal investigators from the legendary happenings in Amityville, N.Y., in the mid-1970s. That case does get a shout-out in the start of this film, but the spotlight is their work in the borough of Enfield in North London.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson build on the delightful chemistry they had as real-life couple as Lorraine and Ed Warren. Wan puts the two through a vision during a nerve-wrecking opening scene which shows them go back into the Amityville horror of 1976. Lorraine, extremely scared after coming to terms with a demonic nurse that issues a warning that Ed’s days are numbered, envisions the grisly demise of Ed, during a séance at the Amityville home and swears to quit the profession. “This is the closest to hell as I ever want to get,” she tells Ed.
After the Amityville prologue, the action jumps to Enfield where a divorced mother of four, Peggy (O’Connor) is fraught to make ends meet when weird things start occurring in her house, centered on her younger one, Janet (Wolfe). Ed and Lorraine are sent to London by the church to solve this insidious haunting, referred by popular media as “England’s Amityville”.
The film plays around with camera cuts with a certain adroitness. Jump scares are often laughed at, and they are a simple way to scare you: someone or something jumps out from the frame’s edge, along with loud screams and noises, the job is done and when they are done, they can turn a scary movie into a great joint experience. Once you scream, you also laugh because you know that you have been duped into leaping out of your seat. Few modern directors of this genre can create a jump scene as well as Wan can
Wan’s stoic vividness and clinical brilliance behind the camera is what makes the film worth a watch. The film is replete with sequences that make you jump and induce goose bumps. At its best, Wan’s implausible camera dexterity is infused with his playfulness. The sound of somebody whistling, a fire vehicle toy moving on its own, a dog bell that signals threat, sudden appearances of the faces, make the film a scary ride.
The film plays around with camera cuts with a certain adroitness. Jump scares are often laughed at, and they are a simple way to scare you: someone or something jumps out from the frame’s edge, along with loud screams and noises, the job is done and when they are done, they can turn a scary movie into a great joint experience. Once you scream, you also laugh because you know that you have been duped into leaping out of your seat. Few modern directors of this genre can create a jump scene as well as Wan can.
Wan did not just make a film based in the era of the 1970’s, he used filmmaking tricks of the era cinematically, often making the audience recall movies like The Omen, but, with a modern outlook. There are some high points conceptualised by Wan that take the story forward. One of them was an incredible scene in which the Warrens check if Janet is or is not haunted by the ghost. Janet is sitting behind, but the camera stays tense on Ed’s face, letting our mind's eye to work on what’s happening behind his back.
Another scene that captured attention was when Ed sits the flustered family down to calm everyone, with Elvis Presley’s sing-a-long. One would least expect Wan to cut it down with a jump-scare because conventionally that is what horror films usually do. But, Wan is way too artistic a filmmaker to denigrate the beauty of the moment. The moment was proof of the fact that horror films can be sweet and charming, even the ones with demons.
Wan went deep into the lives of each and every character. So, when the horror strikes, it freezes you close to the marrow.
The film is replete with good performances. Frances O’Connor, as the children’s single mother who is hesitant and clueless of how to guard her family from the ever more sadistic bumps in the night, is inaudibly tear-jerking. The four actors who play her children are just as convincing, with Madison Wolfe, portraying the role of 11-year-old Janet, the clear winner. As the kid to bear the force of the demonic cruelty, Madison registers horror and trepidation more palpably that most yelling divas who are more than twice her age.
Joseph Bishara’s music perfectly gels with Wan’s images, converting plain shots of a dark corner, a revolving chair, a tent in the dark, a misty glass door and a dog into statements of nerve-wrecking horror. His music gives the film a bloodcurdling tone and creepy texture.
Given all its positives, The Conjuring 2 runs amazingly long; it could have been cut short by 15 minutes at least to make for a tighter, more frightening roller coaster ride. The sequel is a strong piece of cinema, technically, and that alone will be sufficient for fans of Wan’s films to go and watch the film.