Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Conjuring 2

After having a premonition of her husband’s death, Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) wants out, but there is just no saying no to anyone being bullied by deranged paranormal entities. This is why when Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), a single mother of four, asks for their help, Ed (Patrick Wilson) still manages to convince her to fly to the UK and fulfill their duties to those in need of supernatural assistance. It does not take long for them to realize that the demonic presence haunting the Hodgsons by possessing the second oldest child Janet (Madison Wolfe) can very well be the same one causing them trouble back home. The question is, are they well-equipped this time to win this fight, or is it finally game over for this paranormal investigator couple?

The Conjuring 2 is undeniably a James Wan creation. The similarities with his other horror films just can’t be denied, and this is a double-edged sword because it makes you feel as though you are just watching the same old thing over and over again. It does not help that Wilson is always present in his horror franchises (The Conjuring + Insidious). They needed something that would help make you distinguish these movies from one another. In Annabelle, it was the doll. In this one, it’s Valak.

But Valak is not really that scary, though. If anything, she looks like your bored aunt who has a nun costume fetish and one too many cosmetic surgeries. At least Annabelle did not have to try too hard to look sinister. She just looked the part, period. Don’t get me wrong, though, for Valak has been very effective in giving the audience that much needed jolt of terror as they waited for one jump scare right after the other. Even so, you still can’t help but think that the character itself feels a bit gimmicky over all. Nevertheless, she seems to have gained enough popularity to merit a handful of parody videos online. And did I mention that she is set to appear in her very own spinoff aptly called The Nun?

But enough about Valak, how is the movie over all? We have to give credit where it’s due. James Wan has revolutionized a tired genre by reinventing time-tested plot devices we are already familiar with, but relying on the same old trick over and over again kind of defeats the purpose. The formula used for this sequel is almost the same as that in the first one, as well as for Annabelle. This makes it feel a bit episodic. But yes, you are still going to enjoy the movie, except that you will come out of the theater feeling like you’ve been offered something blatantly recycled.

Perhaps a way to counter this is to dig deeper once you are out of the cinema. If you have seen some footage of the real life possession story this film was based on, I’m sure it will give you goosebumps somehow. As for the movie experience itself, it is obvious that a lot of artistic license is involved here, which is just necessary to make everything feel more cinematic. If you lower your expectations a bit, then perhaps you are still bound to appreciate it.

What I did not like that much is that sense of self-importance linked to the main characters. For a demonic entity to go out of its way to orchestrate such a grand plan to get them all in one place just to get rid of them, it makes it appear as though this couple is that significant in the demonic world that they have to be taken care of. In a cinematic universe that is purely fictional, this is understandable, but when you realize that it’s actually based on supposedly real-life events, it just feels too mythical and exaggerated. But then again, this is Hollywood.

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