Horror films today can often become indistinguishable. The increasing reliance on jump scares and the familiar ‘quiet, quiet, quiet…. BANG!’ structure, whilst often providing an entertaining cinema going experience, don’t tend to stay with you much after you leave the screening. Which is why when The Conjuring came out in… many saw it as a breath of fresh air, a horror film that tried to get under your skin and creep you out just as much as it made you jump out of your seat.
Now comes The Conjuring 2 and, unfortunately, it doesn’t quite have the immediate impact of its predecessor. Whilst the original felt like a move away from conventional horror tropes the sequel looks staler when seen in light of more recent indie horrors such as It Follows and The Babadook. Whilst some scenes do certainly have the power to creep you the hell out, there seems to be much more of a focus on people walking slowly around dark rooms until something jumps out at them.
Having said this, the scenes that to strive more for creepy rather than jumpy are much more impressive. The plot, revolving largely around the real story of a family in London haunted by a poltergeist, has full potential for creepy voices and conversations with the ghost, all of which the feels exploits with great effect. However, what people may find most terrifying will be the films subplot. ‘The Nun’ has been most publicised, perhaps because it has its own spin off movie released next year, and to all intents and purposes it is terrifying. The use of a sinister painting here also ramps up the creep factor and you’ll be checking the shadows on the walk home for its ghostly white face (think Marilyn Manson in a dress).
However, horror isn’t the only thing that the film does well. The acting and the characterisation here are all done exceptionally well for a horror film. The performances by the two leads help a lot to the give the film credibility and the British child actors manage to be creepy without ever going over the top. Overall, it’s the attention to details like this that make The Conjuring 2 and horror film worthy of your time. Even if it occasionally indulges in horror tropes more a little too willingly it is clear that the film strives for much more and that, above anything, should be celebrated.