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Movie Night – ‘The Conjuring 2’ offers Halloween scare

By Bradley Griffith

As Halloween creeps ever closer on the calendar scary movies will become more and more popular.  Both in theaters and for renting at home, many people want to be scared.  It’s a rite of passage for this time of year.  “The Conjuring 2” is the second movie based on true stories of real people and fits this season perfectly.  It’s available for home rental.

Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are paranormal investigators in America in the 1970s.  They aren’t the kind of paranormal investigators who use instruments and video records to find ghosts or demons.  Ed has been trained to battle and cast out demons.  Lorraine has a special gift.  She can sense demonic spirits and interact with them when no one else can.  She sees the demons and has visions of things yet to come.

In 1976 the Warrens are part of a team investigating the site of murders in an Amityville, New York home to determine if malicious spirits played any part in the murders, as the man who committed the gruesome crimes claims.  During a group session to determine if any spirits are in the home Lorraine has a vision.  She sees the murders occur from the perspective of the murderer.  She is then led into the basement where she sees a demonic presence dressed as a nun.  The demon also shows her a vision of Ed’s death.

Lorraine takes this as a warning that if she and Ed continue their work that the demon will kill Ed.  She begs Ed to stop their work for at least a short period of time, especially after Ed is inspired by a dream to paint a picture from his dream.  The painting is that of the demonic nun. Shortly thereafter, Lorraine has another vision of the nun in their own home.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic a family begins having supernatural issues of their own.  Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe) begins sleepwalking and talking to a spirit in her dreams who claims that Janet and her family are in his home.  The incidents get stronger and more frightening as Janet appears to be the subject of a possible demonic possession.  Despite her fears, Lorraine agrees to travel to England to investigate.  Ed and Lorraine help people in dire need, and they won’t turn their backs on the Hodgson family.

The original movie of the series, “The Conjuring,” was an excellent film and seemed to start a trend of truly entertaining horror movies that followed.  “The Conjuring” was intense and even frightening in several scenes.  “The Conjuring 2” is just as well made as the original with the same amount of tension, though it isn’t quite as truly scary as the first movie.  However, the sequel excels over the original movie in terms of its story.  The writing showing the reluctance of Lorraine, the strength of Ed in the face of evil, and the terror of the Hodgson family is outstanding.

A minor, but important, difference between the original movie and the “The Conjuring 2” is that the roles of Ed and Lorraine are reversed.  In the first movie Lorraine was the primary force behind the investigation through her gifts.  In the sequel, Lorraine can sense no evil presence in the house despite the fact that she and Ed witness many incidents of a malevolent spirit tormenting Janet.  Instead, Ed takes the lead in the investigation and, as a result, Patrick Wilson shines in the spotlight.

Despite the fact that there are several moments of unexpected humor in the movie, the fact that you are aware of in the back (or maybe the forefront) of your mind that the film is based on true events makes the movie more frightening.  It provides more context to the movie, makes it feel like more than just a movie.

“The Conjuring 2” is the perfect movie to curl up with on the couch with the lights out and enjoy the season.  Unless, of course, you have a particular aversion to nuns.  In that case you might want to turn on one light.

Grade: A-

Rated R for terror and horror violence.