Here’s a not-so-secret secret about me: I suffer from sleep paralysis. It’s a sleep disorder that causes the sufferer to maintain consciousness while the body remains asleep, causing temporary immobility. Sounds awful, right? It is. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is the hallucinations. More often than not I see a dark, menacing, vaguely human shape standing in the corner on my room. Or, if I’m really lucky, I’ll see something waving to me from inside my closet. These experiences are the closest I’ve ever come to pure, mortal terror.
And, for the record, that’s pretty close.
The point of this story is that there is not, nor will there ever be, anything more terrifying than our own imaginations. And I further postulate that there isn’t one filmmaker working today who understands this better than James Wan, directer of The Conjuring 2. He knows how to give an audience a creaky floorboard, an empty rocking chair, and a shadowy presence looming slightly off-screen, and let their brains fill in the gaps.
This sequel to 2013’s The Conjuring (also directed by James Wan) once again stars Vera Farminga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, reputed paranormal investigators. This film, like it’s predecessor, tackles a real-life haunting, the case of the Enfield Poltergeist. In London, a single mother and her four children are terrorized by what they believe is the spirit of the previous owner of their home. Ed and Lorraine travel to England as agents of the Catholic church to determine if the haunting is legitimate.
Vera Farminga and Patrick Wilson are as groovy as ever and their onscreen romance continues to be the beating heart of the Conjuring franchise. Frances O’Connor also shines as the cockney mother at her wits end, as she and her family battle overdue rent, leaky
pipes, and the forces of darkness.
The best thing about this film is it’s restraint. Wan has a talent for building tension and then letting it diffuse, only to have it build again. It’s terrifying, but not relentlessly so. The audience gets the chance to recover from a scare before another one gets thrown at them.
I think it’s safe to say that the Conjuring franchise is horror for people who don’t like horror. These movies aren’t crude, or gory, or campy. They’re thoughtful and poignant and frequently so scary that half of your time will be spent actively trying to not crap yourself. You know, if that’s something you’re into.