REVIEW: ‘Conjuring 2’ needs to exorcise 30 minutes
It takes an awfully long time for the conjuring to begin in “The Conjuring 2.”
Apparently determined to prove this isn’t just another horror film, director James Wan spends more than half his film setting up the close encounter of the “Exorcist” kind. By the time it actually happens, we’re ready for quick absolution.
Based on the files of Lorraine and Ed Warren (or, at least, that’s what we’re told), the franchise shows the two visiting haunted houses around the world. They had success with the Amityville horror. Now they’re on to England where a single mom has a ghost that likes to move furniture and inhabit her daughter.
She reaches out, attracts television attention and gets a visit from the Warrens, who proceed to trick the old man apparently unwilling to move.
The house is falling apart (there’s water in the basement), the furniture should have been thrown out years ago and a room that’s filled with crosses really could use another coat of paint.
Still, Wan got great results from a clapping exercise in the first film. Now, he’s on to the kind of stuff that made “The Exorcist” such a hit during the 1970s, which is when this is set.
That no one references the film is a big surprise. You’d think someone would say, “This is just like ‘The Exorcist,’ right?” but no one does. Instead, Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) take this very seriously and find they’re part of the problem, too.
Wan’s split focus lets us follow some issues they’re having back in the states while the British mom (Frances O’Connor) tries to make sense of the strange things happening in her depressing home.
A good chunk of the film passes before the two are brought together. Then, it’s just a matter of getting in the room where it happens and exorcising.
Farmiga, who plays the controlling mom on “Bates Motel,” is much more subdued here, going into trances and looking spooky when sitting with her daughter. She has the name of the demon spelled out in her bookshelf (spoiler alert) but doesn’t figure it out until late in the game.
Wilson continues his “Fargo” ways as the stoic Ed, threading his old school tape recorders so he can get all of the possession recorded on tape. He doesn’t stretch too much in this outing, but he does get a moment with the girl and a set of drapes that will make you thank the guy who installed yours.
Unlike Lili Taylor (who made the first film so engrossing), there’s no one in “Conjuring 2” who stirs those fright impulses. Sure, it has a couple of jumps. But the most interesting stuff comes during the credits when we get to see the photos of the real family and hear bits of Ed’s tape.
Wan’s formula ensures many more “Conjurings” to come. Now he just needs to realize the best horror films don’t take more than two hours to unfold.