The Conjuring 2 ****

This is the best horror movie in a long, long time.

Is it worth $10? Yes

You might think horror movies just aren't scary anymore. Predictable and tired retreads of a genre once lively with innovation keep spitting out garbage every year. But there’s redemption: A shining beacon named "The Conjuring 2" has emerged from that darkness and is truly the scariest film since “The Exorcist.”

Taking place six years after the first film’s events, we find our paranormal couple Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren having gained worldwide notice from the Amityville Haunting. They have taken a self-imposed break from the spiritual world, which has begun to take a toll on them with haunting visions. They are also mired with skeptics questioning their credibility as legit paranormal investigators.

Meanwhile in Enfield, England a single mother and her four children are experiencing a terrifying haunting that has focused itself on 11 year-old Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe). The demonic entity moves Janet in her sleep, bites the family, and destroys household furniture, to name just a few of its malevolent acts.  Ed and Lorraine investigate at the request of the Catholic Church to verify if the haunting is real. What they discover is the most terrifying case of their careers with the lives of the Hodgson family and their own at stake.

Director James Wan (“Insidious,” “The Conjuring”) is the master of the current haunted house genre. What could have been just a carbon copy of the first movie, "The Conjuring 2" breaks new ground with a more impressive story, well-crafted scares, and disturbing imagery that lingers with you well after you leave the theater. Wan, along with cinematographer Don Burgess, know how to use shadows and angles to keep you always looking for the next scare, but don’t cheapen things with fake jump scares, like the scared cat pouncing from the shadows. They allow the fear to build and a scene to play out no matter the result.

Wilson and Farmiga have a fantastic on screen chemistry and they bring a great depth to their characters that shows not just the paranormal side, but the fun family side of Ed and Lorraine's lives. Wolfe is truly sympathetic as the terrorized child Janet and she appropriately portrays the exhausting fear she is suffering through. Frances O' Connor as the mother, Peggy, is exceptional as the frustrated head of the family who has more than enough real life worries, not to mention supernatural ones complicating things. 

The London setting is overplayed at times with a few too many cultural references. The audience understands its England, we don't need constant reminders of biscuits, BBC, and overly cockney accents to keep reminding us. Otherwise the late ‘70s is properly represented in style, furnishings, and equipment. The film is also quite long for the horror genre at 133 minutes, but never feels bloated and keeps you with a constant state of unease ‘til the end thanks to the adrenaline pumping scares, a haunting score, and looming dread. 

If you want some lingering nightmares and to leave a theater with a genuine tense feeling that doesn't go away quickly, see this film. Even better, maybe you will be watching it on a dark and stormy night, go to the theater bathroom after, and have the lights flicker on and off. Immediately your blood goes cold and you imagine all of the demons on the screen, coming to life and stalking you outside of the lonely men’s room stall. That dear reader is a true story. Nice work Mr.Wan.