‘The Conjuring 2’
Director: James Wan
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
2 (out of 5) Globes
“The Conjuring 2” isn’t a repeat of “The Conjuring 1,” and that’s great — in theory. In theory, sequels should be different, should be ambitious, should maybe even dirty their shoes with some serious world-building. But “The Conjuring” is an exception to a not-quite-rule. The hit 2013 haunted house jaunt was a blissfully stripped down affair — a chance for director James Wan to pare down the ghost movie to creeping pans and off-rhythm “boo”s. It was a jerry-rigged contraption, built to efficiently scrape nerves. In this case, anything more would be less.
Alas, “The Conjuring 2” has so much more — five times the scares, three times the plot, plus that other sequelitus ailment: a longer running time. There’s a deepening, probably unnecessary mythology about its heroes, Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson), based on real-life paranormal investigators, whose grubby hands were involved in many of the era’s most publicized alleged hauntings. It even tries, clumsily, to address the notion that these tall tales of ghosts and demons and poltergeists, with their obscure and byzantine rules of engagement, might be total bull.
Granted, “2” has a far more well-known real-life case — technically, two of them. The overture sits in on the 1976 Amityville haunting, which helped make the Warrens superstars. Shaken by the grind of battling both the supernatural and mean, jerky skeptics, they’re thinking of throwing in the towel. Then they get pulled back in. Turns out there’s some doings-a-transpiring in Enfield, England, where a low-income family — the Hodgsons, led by a struggling, single mom (Frances O’Connor) — claimed they were being inexplicably terrorized by some spirit, who would bang around the furniture, make loud noises and, sometimes, possess one of the young daughters, played by Madison Wolfe. (Far scarier, honestly: That Wan uses “London Calling” in his montage intro to 1977 England. Not only is it cheesy — a Bond film already did it! — but the song wasn’t released till two years after.)