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Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

One of my favorite paranormal cases to study is the British "Enfield Poltergeist".  When I heard that "The Conjuring 2 would concern the involvement of Ed and Lorraine Warren in it, I was understandably interested- though I was well aware that the Warrens had only spent one day as part of the investigation.  I was still interested.  Wary, but interested.

The Hodgsons are being tormented by strange phenomena: knockings, moving furniture, levitation and possession.  Spurred by a vision she has during the Amityville investigation, Lorraine and Ed travel to England to assist the besieged family.  Their investigation draws them into the clutches of a demonic force that has been stalking Lorraine for some time...

I'm going to get my main negative comment out of the way: the historical accuracy of this movie as it relates to the Warrens' involvement in the real life Enfield Poltergeist investigation is thrown out the window.  If you go into this film looking for an accurate portrayal of the case, you will be disappointed.

Right- with that out of the way, let's talk about "The Conjuring 2" as entertainment.

The story from a purely entertainment viewpoint is pretty solid, if somewhat standard for the genre.  It hit pretty much all the beats you'd expect from a ghost movies these days.  Even so, it's strength is that it's fairly grounded in tone and pacing.  It's not over the top in what it's expecting you to believe for the most part, and does contain kernels of truth incorporated from the actual case.  Even if it wasn't based (very loosely) on a real event, the story itself is sufficiently well crafted to be engaging, and keep my attention from wandering to thoughts of why my bowl has no more cheesy poofs.

The characters, from what I have read, are fairly accurate to the real life participants.  The fictionalized versions have depth, and a nice believability to how they act.

I have to say that the acting was really quite good.  Every single performer brought these characters to life in a substantial way that helped to draw you into the story.  I also loved that there was a real effort to make the look of the actors match the actual person they were portraying.  This is especially apparent  with Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson, and Simon McBurney as Maurice Grosse.

Praise also has to go to the art direction.  I was really impressed with how closely they made this film match up visually to photos, etc of the real events.  From the red nightgown Janet wore in the famous "levitation photo", to the posters on the walls.  It was close enough that I didn't mind it wasn't exact.

As an accurate telling of the Warren's involvement with the Enfield Poltergeist, I would have to give "The Conjuring 2" a borderline "Ugly/Bad".  As a piece of horror entertainment, I'd put it 'The Good".