In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren come out of a self-imposed sabbatical to travel to Enfield, a borough in north London. There, they meet Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), an overwhelmed single mother of four who tells the couple that something evil is in her home. Ed and Lorraine believe her story when the youngest daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe) starts to show signs of demonic possession. As the Warrens try to help the besieged girl, they become the next target of the malicious spirits.
If you would like to read my review of The Conjuring, click here. This is also another film off my list of most anticipated films of 2016. If you’ve been following this site on a regular basis, this should not come as much of a surprise to any of you since I’ve been a big fan of The Conjuring series. This came primarily due to the pairing of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren. They made them into such likeable and compelling characters that I would watch them in anything. Why not in a sequel?
The film picks things up a few years after the events of the previous film with the Warrens in Amityville (google it) which leaves Lorraine (Farmiga) damaged once again as she is faced with another glimpse of evil in a demonic entity which she has previously encountered (from an instance referenced from the previous film), more on that later. Later, when she receives a vision of her husband’s potential death, this leaves her at a crossroads which forces her to begin to question whether or not she and Ed (Wilson) should continue to work cases. This reminds us that the Warrens still are real people, with their own lives and personal conflicts. This was still fun to watch as we got a little more background into their lives and their relationship. For the most part, the film had more of a focus on the Warrens then the first and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
While all of this was happening, we got to meet the Hodgson family, featuring a mother named Peggy (O’Connor), two daughters (Margaret and Janet), and two sons (Johnny and Billy). The only child we should concern ourselves with is Janet (Wolfe). When Margaret and Janet play around with a makeshift spirit board, they inadvertently summon the spirit of a man named Bill Wilkins (Bob Adrian). There’s not really anything new here horror-wise, featuring things like stuff moving on their own and strange noises. But just like in the previous film, it is how these are framed which is more important. What was so great about the previous film was its handling of ambiance through cinematography and sound design, this was still the case here, maybe more so this time around. Because of the increased focus on the Warrens and their relationship, there were less of these kinds of moments. The film definitely took advantage of these fewer moments, making the bulk of them feel scarier than the first film.
Without giving anything away, the film was a little more ambitious this time in trying to have more of a story by connecting the Warren’s own subplot to the rest of the plot which was interesting (considering this is based on a true story which in turn, makes you think how it all is connected). This worked for the most part, framing the Warrens’ mindset and personal motivations while adding some dimension to their characters. While the Warren drama was compelling, there was still a family in need here. Their own drama was compelling as well. The Hodgsons as a family were all likeable and relatable and were very interesting to watch. It was easy to be invested in their situation as they rallied around Janet as she became a conduit of the evil spirit. Wolfe’s performances as Janet was great here at going through all the stages while also helping us to empathize with the Hodgson’s plight.
With the increased focus on the Warrens, the film plays up their romance a little more which may seem out of place as this and the previous film have made it quite clear but it still worked here as this just gave them a little more personality. Wilson and Farmiga were still great here as Ed and Lorraine Warren. They were just as compelling and fun to watch even with their increased screen presence as they play a bigger part in the action here and in the plot.
Overall, this is another great addition in The Conjuring series, offering a compelling plot while building on its main characters in the Warrens and boasting great performances by Wilson and Farmiga.