The Conjuring 2, otherwise known as Ghostly goings-on in Old London Town, is the latest feature from Director James Wan. Wan is responsible for franchise features including the Insidious movies and the seventh entry in the Fast and Furious series, but is most famous for kickstarting the torture-porn genre with his debut movie Saw. These films have shown James Wan to be an efficient director, but as with the rest of his filmography The Conjuring 2 suffers from a lack of originality and fails to produce any scares which last beyond the running time.
As was the case with the first film, the Conjuring 2 is inspired by the case file of famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are played by returning actors Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. The case in question, or actually the cases in question are arguably the most famous in the history of paranormal study: that of the Amityville horror and the Enfield Poltergeist that took London by storm in the early Seventies. The decision to focus on two iconic events severly weakens the film as The Amityville Haunting appears as a rather desperate inclusion, also the filmmakers attempts to connect the two hauntings are rather insulting to an audience who know that the cases in question are completely seperate, and one wishes they had stuck to one of the incidents rather than try to connect the two.
The majority of the film is focused on the case of The Enfield Poltergeist, a case which has been described as the most famous example of paranormal activity in the history of Britain, in fact the events have already been portrayed in the superior tv series The Enfield Haunting. The strength of that show was that the episodic approach of tv allowed us to view the emotional decline of Janet Hodgson. Brilliantly portrayed in the show by Eleanor Worthington Cox. The Conjuring 2 has none of the emotional weight of the show as none of the characters are given anything to do apart from creeping around in the dark and occasionally looking scared when something jumps out at them. In much the same way the film has very little to offer the audience beside the obvious pleasure of jumping out of our skin.
The Conjuring 2 offers nothing new to the horror genre, mostly because it chooses to focus on stories that have been told more successfully in earlier films, but also because it seems reluctant to take any risks with the material. James Wan is a technically gifted filmmaker who understands how to set up a jump scare correctly, but unfortunatly he appears unwilling to move beyond the conventions of specific genres.