Film Reviews

THE CONJURING 2

By • Jun 10th, 2016 •

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I recently went to Mt. Charleston to meet up with Cecile and David LeClaire and members of their group, the Southern Nevada Ghost Hunters. They came equipped with highly sophisticated equipment and we were all prepared to spend the night camping in the mountains. The exit gate would close at sundown.

There is a self-appointed ghost hunting group in your town. If there is not, start one. All you need is a website, a logo t-shirt, business cards and a lot of fancy equipment and you are ready to invade someone’s home looking for ghosts or demons – whichever you prefer.

Paranormal researchers (and considered America’s preeminent experts on the subject of spirits and demonology) Ed and Lorraine Warren finally hit the Hollywood jackpot after decades of being known as the most prolific investigators of paranormal phenomena.

THE CONJURING starred Patrick Wilson as demonologist Ed Warren and Vera Farmiga as trance medium Lorraine Warren. With $318 million in worldwide box office, Warner Bros. looked for a follow-up. Instead, a lawsuit followed. According to Evergreen Media Group, which licensed the rights to the first film, the studio was only granted rights on a “very limited, selection of the Case Files – i.e., less than one percent (1%) of the total number of Case Files – and the Warrens’ life stories. Evergreen filed a lawsuit to stop a sequel. The Warrens’ career resulted in some 8,000 “Case Files”, of which 25 were licensed as possible films.

Evergreen alleges that Warner Bros. cleverly bypassed the licensing agreement and found that in the Warren’s life stories they had been involved in the most famous case of poltergeist activity ever recorded, The Enfield Poltergeist. The studio had their follow-up, THE CONJURING 2. And they got THE CONJURING’S director, James Wan, back.

In THE CONJURING 2 the Warrens go to London to investigate the already well-known case of the Enfield poltergeist.

A foreshadowing of what will come, Ed paints a nun ravaged by a demon. Where did Ed get this special talent? It is Lorraine, as trance medium, who can make contact with the dark energy. Lorraine is the star, Ed is her protector.

Single mother of four, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), has little time to humor her daughter Janet’s (Madison Wolfe) talk of flying toys and odd shaped forms in her bedroom. Soon the poltergeist activity is impossible to ignore and other people, including local police officers, witness furniture and objects moving around the house. Things really turn strange when a former owner, Bill Wilkins (Bob Adrian), who died in the old rocking chair still in the living room, starts appearing.

Clearly, he wants his house back.

By the time the Warren’s get to Enfield, the family and house are being investigated by paranormal expert and believer Maurice Grosse (Simon McBurney) and skeptic Anita Gregory (Franka Potente).

With THE CONJURING 2 opening, Guy Lyon Playfair, a member of the Society for Psychical Research and one of the chief investigators of the Enfield Poltergeist case, says the Warrens showed up “uninvited”, stayed for only a day, and alleges that they manufactured their own paranormal evidence simply “to make money out of it.”

In a recent interview, Guy Lyon Playfair said: “They did turn up once, I think, at Enfield, and all I can remember is Ed Warren telling me that he could make a lot of money for me out of it. So I thought, “Well that’s all I need to know from you” and I got myself out of his way as soon as I could. I said was not impressed. He didn’t spend… I don’t think he went there more than once.”

Wan, as director and co-screenwriter along with Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, and David Leslie Johnson, has no interest in delving into the seedier side of those involved in demonology, ghost hunting and trance mediumship. Director Wan brings the drab, hardscrabble life of Peggy Hodgson into sharp focus. The quite ordinary house, darkened by ugly furniture and London’s bleak weather, offers the perfect setting for poltergeist activity.

Why didn’t the family just throw away that damn ugly chair?

Wand and the writers emphasize how much the Warrens love each other and their love provides the power to fight the demon. And Wilson and Farmiga, so cute in their 60s look, play up the love as high school sweethearts.

As for the horror factor, at one point I screamed so loud I woke up my husband sitting next to me.

The end credits are shown over stills from the movie alongside actual photographs of the real life people, the house, and the investigators.

Wan must have taken Hollywood liberties with the total destruction of the house, because the end credits tell us that the family continued to live in the house after the Poltergeist Katrina left.

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

 

 

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