Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: James Wan's, The Conjuring 2

11 of 11 viewers "Liked" "The Conjuring 2" (USA, 2016)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Lord Battle - "James Wan has not only redeemed studio horror, he's defined it. A haunted house is the perfect place to shoot a 1 location indie horror and turn a profit, especially with a cast and crew like James has at the helm, so what sets The Conjuring 2 apart from a film like Sinister or Insidious? The details. From vibrant textures previously only found in black and white films, to rooms that are lit in such a way that they are transformed into what can only be described as the mind's eye of a terrified child. And if what separates film from TV is mood told through the character of the camera, then Don Burgess is the true haunter in the night as he guarantees no one leaves the theater unshaken. #3 Poltergeist, #2 The Exorcist, and #1 The Conjuring 2." - 5 Stars

Speed Demon - "James W. never seems to disappoint. He does such an excellent job of keeping you in the zone and on edge. This film was super good all around. Visually amazing, creepy and hauntingly captivating. A great mix for some insane scare jumps. I'd say another add on to the holiday (Christmas) themed stack of films you watch each year. Truly some nerve wracking fun here." - 4.5 Stars

Dabbles - "Even though I was watching this through one eye the whole time, I could still see that The Conjuring 2 was masterfully executed. From the camera tricks, to the playfulness with the content, it's one of those movies that keeps you guessing what's next and makes you so anxious and nervous of the outcome" - 5 Stars

Clark Little - "The Conjuring 2 works as a stand alone film. We enter the story with familiarity of Ed and Lorraine Warren, but the continuing development of the characters only strengthens the narrative. A narrative that doesn't reinvent the wheel and could use a bit of trimming from its 2hr 15 min run time, but Wan's execution and ability to use the camera to deliver the biggest scares while maintaining skillful mechanics, makes this film a worthy view. Oh. It's also terrifying. It's got that." - 4 Stars

Huntress - "The Conjuring 2 was everything I wanted it to be. It had a very well crafted script and story, bone rattling scares, and great characters, who switched from lighthearted and terrified very naturally. There was not one character I didn't like, which is usually hard to say with so many children in the cast. And I really enjoyed seeing Ed and Lorraine Warren's vulnerability and humanity, it made their love story so much more heart wrenching. James Wan is definitely leaving his mark on the horror genre." - 5 Stars

KillDozer - "James Wan brings us another fun paranormal investigation from the files of Ed and Lorriane Warren. With an all star 4 person writing team responsible for bringing some noteworthy titles to the screen like The Orphan,House of Wax, The Reaping, and Wrath of the Titans. In my opinion Wan has proven himself to be a master at setting spooky atmosphere, building tension, and giving us stories about people we can relate to and care about. The Conjuring 2 begins like the X-Files, we are drawn into another case not unlike the one we last experienced. We are introduced to a situation a lot of us can relate to, a family struggling financially and emotionally but that is bonded by love. This family, not unlike the last also has some ghost problems as well, and the answer to "Who you gonna call?" is the Warrens! I can only imagine how utterly terrifying this film would be if I were even a little religious since I have no faith, yet still jumped several times and I'm still seeing faces in the shadows at night. All together a solid follow up with beautiful cinematography and minimal cut aways. Watch the camera as it naturally glides around the house as night turns to day and sun to rain, and be amazed at what practical camera effects can do. I look forward to seeing more of the Warrens on screen." - 4.5 Stars (Collection worthy and worth a full price admission to the theatre)

The Creature of the ComiCombs - "It's a pretty rare thing for a movie to scare me the way The Conjuring 2 did. This movie was terrifying. I really liked the way it was shot, everything worked well together with some great attention to detail throughout. There were a couple moments that almost lost me but this movie was so good I was drawn back in almost immediately. There are some cheesy moments in the movie but they were a welcome change because this movie is tense. Overall this is one of the best movies I have seen this year." - 5 Stars

Math Mage - *Spoilers* - "Filled with genuine scares, excellent pacing, spooky atmosphere, and great acting, this film could easily be in my best of the year list. However, there were just too many moments that took me out of the film. Patrick Wilson’s screen chewing action dad was jarring especially when paired with Vera Farmiga’s non-entity; neither ever manages to talk like a real person despite being the focus of every scene they’re in. I missed Insidious in every scene they appeared in. Insidious makes it clear that it’s building its own mythology, the Conjuring however tries to be rooted in the “real” world leading to clunky references to “the church*” and statements about ghost fighting that seem out of place.** The last straw was when slenderman showed up, after that I simply could not take the film seriously, which was a shame because there were still 40 minutes of movie left including some of the best scenes.
Despite all that the film was innovative in that, unlike the usual case where the struggle to be believed is a key part of the narrative, the haunting is obvious to almost all of the characters (except for a single character who seems to disbelieve out of spite). This changes a number of interactions (the police believe you, but what are they going to do?) in interesting ways; including the spirit faking a hoax to drive away the ghost hunters! But if the ghost is that clever, why did it immediately try to kill everyone? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to wait like an hour to make sure they were really gone? Also why do ghosts roar now? Is it a dinosaur? “Hatred from 65 million years, Rhhhaauuuggjh!” I’m just going in circles at this point. So, bottom line: Insidious > the Conjuring." - 3.5 Stars

Book Wyrm - "This movie was pretty scary. I was proud of myself for not jumping too much but if I wasn't trying to not jump I think I definitely would have split my snacks all over. I really enjoyed seeing the Warrens' relationship expand and grow deeper, and the kids were all great actors. There were parts where I wanted to cry because their situation seemed so dire. The demon was super horrifying and I loved the subtle foreshadowing in the background throughout the movie. The fact that this was all real makes it that much scarier." - 4 Stars

The Impostor - "Worthy sequel to its original, The Conjuring 2 is a must see. This film is a perfect example of how sequels should be. Perfectly shot, its haunting visuals keep you engaged from beginning to end. Acting and chemistry between the characters are near perfect. James Wan is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors, I will definitely support anything he works on in the future. Overall The Conjuring 2 blew me away and I'm looking forward to owning it when it's released." - 5 Stars

* They can’t say which church because that would mean claiming legitimacy that the real Warrens never had
** “A demonic entity capable of clouding Lorraine’s sight is more than a match for me” That’s not how exorcisms work. You don’t pit your psychic powers against a ghost/demon in spiritual combat, you ask God for help because you don’t have any powers (unless you sold your soul to the devil?)

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

James Wan understands the Haunted House sub-genre of horror films better than any of us. He has proven this by creating ghost stories that not only sustain their suspense but also contain a climatic third act.

Haunted House films are all about testing the strength of the nuclear family. We are introduced to our representation of the modern or era based family and we watch their transition from everyday life into a nightmare as something ancient becomes unearthed or something malevolent is introduced. These conduits are often metaphors themselves, representing an ignorance of religion (Exorcist, The Possession), economic despair (The Conjuring), or a war (The Others, Under The Shadow).

So many of the tropes of the Haunted House genre stem from the crafting of a believable narrative, which requires all of regular society to remain rational but lean towards suspicious (police, medical) with the fringe society and those close to the family to be skeptical at best (psychics, mentally unstable, neighbors). What James Wan has done with The Conjuring 2 is allowed the Hodgson's every practical solution, as in fleeing to a neighbors house at a very reasonable time and having the police actually witness something, only to react in another realistic way, powerless.

These moments could arguably have been placed in the story to keep a post-Scream audience quite. But I believe James Wan's mastery over this sub-genre has let him change and challenge the metaphor to push the test of our Nuclear family even farther. Most of the staple Haunted House films leave the audience with the feel of "If only someone would believe them". In The Conjuring 2, everyone is trying to help the Hodgson's and some maybe even exploit them. This means our Nuclear family is now further alienated by the failure of society's faculties and as a result, has aired their dirty laundry on television (another of society's means to distract, that utterly fails). After all, if you call the police and tell them your husband's cheating with the girl down the block, they'll totally believe you but prove to be just as useless.

The above video is a half-hour long doc that gives a good perspective on the real life case in Edinburgh.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized on 6/9/2016 at the Century 10.
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating.

And the winner of the Overlook Theatre's Random Summer Giveaway is...


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