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​“The Conjuring 2” provides twice the scares

Director James Wan propels series to new heights

<p>"The Conjuring 2" is more than just a scary movie.</p>

"The Conjuring 2" is more than just a scary movie.

With high box office earnings and favorable critical reviews, the first “Conjuring” film was a success and proved to be a highlight in director James Wan’s career. The acting, writing, scares and pace were impeccable throughout the movie. The film captured the spirit of a 1970s horror flick by being based on a true story. Many films of this quality are destined for lousy sequels, with filmmakers only trying to ape what worked so well before. However, this is not the case with “The Conjuring 2.”

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as their ghostbusting duo, Lorraine and Ed Warren, in the horror sequel of the year. This time, their case leads them to Enfield, England and the house of the infamous “Enfield Poltergeist” of the late 1970s. The film continues its tradition of beginning with one of the Warrens’ premier cases, the Amityville haunting.

What makes “The Conjuring 2” so fresh is its approach to its source material. Many other horror films with the “based on a true story” designation — including the first “Conjuring” — disregard any contemporary criticisms regarding horror events and portray these events as 100 percent accurate. However, for example, as Lorraine and Ed help the Hodgson family with their haunted residence, Lorraine questions whether she will be able to protect her own credibility while working on a highly scrutinized case. The film therefore gives a voice to the counterpoint of the conversation, making it clear why skeptics do not believe the real-life Hodgson family.

In another deviation from its predecessor, this film has intentionally shifted its focus from the victims to the liberators. While “The Conjuring” shows a woman protecting her children with the help of two strangers, “The Conjuring 2” emphasizes a woman helping someone even if she’s scared out of her wits. Wan does this in order to fully develop the Warrens as characters.

Ed and Lorraine now feel like real people to the viewers, and the love they share for each other is now perfectly conveyed. Wilson and Farmiga display real chemistry throughout the entirety of the film.

This sequel surpasses its predecessor in the most important aspect: horror. Wan uses his typical tricks in the film to scare his audience such as unexpected clapping, faces in the distance and loud crescendos — all typical fare for a modern horror film. These tricks were not the blockbuster aspects of the first “Conjuring.”

The sheer dread throughout the film and the constant fear of what lies behind every corner, makes it fresh, original and unsettling.

Wan amps this up in the sequel and it has the audience constantly awaiting what might happen next. Even during the more jovial parts of the film, which are more prevalent in this picture than its predecessor, the audience can be uncomfortable. The cheap, shot-reverse-shot, the-ghost-is-right-behind-you scares are still present in the film, but they are not nearly common enough to be habitual. Wan is a modern master of horror, and he clearly does not want anything to be expected.

More accessible than “The Witch” and “Green Room,” “The Conjuring 2” could be the highest-grossing horror film of the year, and with good reason. This effort is sure to put audience members on the edge of their seats.