Friday, June 10, 2016

The Conjuring 2 Review

If you follow my blog closely enough, you'll know that the horror genre is a genre that I'm actually a big fan of. I absolutely love myself a well-made horror movie. However, in that statement lies a problem. Nowadays it's really hard to find a well-made horror movie. Making a horror movie is a very lucrative business because they are dirt cheap to make and are easy to gain a profit. Most horror movies these days only take $5-$10 million at most to make and thus earning $15-$20 million is considered a win. Because of that, I feel a lot of studios care more about the money and thus will throw together a bunch of really cheap horror movies stuffed full of horror cliches without caring too much about quality. Due to the fact that at least 90 percent of them make a profit, they keep following that formula, which causes true fans like me to be really frustrated at the extreme lack of good horror these days. All that said, I'm always on the constant search for the few good horror movies that come out and when it happens I do my best to wave a huge flag to notify true horror fans that I found one. Today I... kinda found one. I'm going to be more critical of The Conjuring 2 than many reviews I've seen, but I will admit that it's better than most that have come out recently.

I never wrote a review of The Conjuring. This is because I didn't actually see it until recently. Don't know what my holdup was. I just never got around to it for some reason. With all the movies that come out every year, that sometimes happens. Overall I thought The Conjuring was a very well crafted horror movie. I'm really sick of all the horror movies that rely heavily on jump scares, blood, gore, sex, nudity, and language to be effective. Part of the problem with horror movies these days is that those elements are the primary focus when studios make these movies. Elements like plot, screenplay, and acting are practically thrown out the window. The Conjuring is a movie that actually focused on the latter first, which is what all horror movies should do. In fact, the blood and gore was very limited, and there was no sex, nudity, or language used all. There were jump scares, but all of them served a good purpose to the plot, which was the main focus. This is something that I really appreciated about the movie. Director James Wan did a great job of building honest tension that made it so I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and I also loved the story about this haunting that was supposedly going on at that house for the last hundred or so years.

What I didn't like about The Conjuring was that they tried to shove it down my throat that the events in the movie actually happened. Supernatural horror movies can be really good. I have no problem with the genre as a whole. The TV show Supernatural is one of my favorite shows and they deal with this stuff in pretty much every episode. What I do have a problem with are the supernatural horror movies that claim they are based on a true story and try to drive that into your head, but are really a work of fiction when you research the actual events. If a studio wants to take events that happened and make a fictional movie inspired by that, that's fine with me. But if a big part of the reason why the movie is supposed to be scary is because the events spoken of actually happened, but they really didn't, then it's something that I laugh at because it takes away all of the tension. Simply put, I don't believe in the supernatural. Not in the way it's portrayed in these supernatural horror movies, anyways. With The Conjuring, they tell the story of an evil witch from the Salem Witch Trials that is haunting the house and causing everyone that lives there to commit suicide. Despite what the movie tries to tell you, the whole thing is a bunch of bull crap. Well-crafted horror movie. Annoying premise. Thus it's good, but not great.

The Conjuring 2 has the same problems, but amplified. Both movies focus on two real-life paranormal investigators named Ed and Lorraine Warren that investigated tons of cases. To the credit of both movies, they do an excellent job of following the Warrens' account to a t. But that account is the issue. With the first movie, the current owner of the house went through detail by detail of every character brought up and proved how horribly fake the whole story is. Granted, it's a game of he said, she said, but when you listen to the account of the current owner and then listen to Lorraine Warren and/or Andrea Perron, it's really obvious as to whose account is more legit. I'll give a you clue. It's not the Warrens' account. Before I saw The Conjuring 2, I researched the heck out of the case this is based off of, which is one of the more publicized paranormal stories in history, and the huge consensus is that the two young girls in the family set the whole thing up and did a dang good job of tricking everyone. The only people that believe them are the people like the Warrens who will believe any and every paranormal case they investigate. Perhaps I shouldn't have done this research and just tried to go enjoy the movie, but I have this weird thing where if a movie tries to shove down my throat that it's a true story, then I like holding them to that. If the whole thing ends up being bogus, I take issue because I feel I was lied to.

The funny thing with The Conjuring 2 is that a huge portion of the movie actually focused on the skepticism towards this case. The first movie didn't do that at all. Everyone in the movie just bought into the ghost story and the focus was on learning about the ghost and figuring out how to stop it. I think I actually preferred the first movie's methods because the skepticism story arc actually bothered me. First off, all the skeptics in the movie were portrayed as idiots. Second, every time a skeptic argument was brought up, the movie debunked it. Now if they wanted to go with the ambiguous route and present two objective sides to the story and let the audience decide what happened, that would be cool. That wasn't the goal here. Instead the goal was to shove it down your throats for nearly the whole 134 minute run time that they were telling a true story and no aspect of their movie was false and thus their movie is super scary because it could happen to everyone. No. I was throwing the b.s. flag the entire time and because the movie tried so hard to convince me to believe it, I almost felt like I was arguing with the movie the whole time. It was like one of those situations where your crazy old uncle is telling you a story that he claims is true, but you know is false and you impatiently sit there waiting for him to be done. Yeah, that was this movie.

However, despite all this, I told myself going in that if this movie were to have the same effective horror elements that the first one had, I would give it a pass. But that was a mixed bag for me. The movie does follow the formula of the first movie in how it is crafted, and I once again appreciated that. There's no language in the movie. There's no sex or nudity at all. With everything that happened in the home -- all the furniture, plates, knives, etc flying around -- they had every right to make this a bloody gore-fest. But it's not. The movie is rated R, but for "terror and horror violence." This is probably an appropriate rating because young teenagers and kids who usually go to PG-13 movies might have nightmares for the rest of their lives if they see this movie, but I loved how the movie focused on making a movie instead of stuffing it with blood, gore, nudity, and language and calling that good. That said, while I appreciated the approach, the first two-thirds of the movie weren't that scary for me as compared to the first. The first movie is terrifying. This second movie not so much. They tried to build a ton of tension and provide a lot of scares, but it just didn't work this time for me. I was bored. The ghost in this one didn't even have an interesting back story like the first movie's ghost did. I was disappointed.

Two-thirds of the way through, I was thinking that I was actually going to write a negative review for this movie, which made me sad because it is better than most horror movies. But I just wasn't buying it. It wasn't that scary and they were spending too much time trying to shove the "based on a true story" aspect down my throat. But then there came a point where the movie turned around. I'm not going to spoil anything, but I will just say that this turning point came when certain characters were on a train. From that point on, the movie was phenomenal and I was wishing that the first two-thirds of the movie would've followed that because this would've made for a great movie. I will admit that there was no point in this ending that was as jaw-dropping as the exorcism scene in the first movie, but it was still good. And I do have to say that the acting throughout the movie was excellent. My favorite person in the movie was Vera Farmiga. I think she's a phenomenal actress. Sure, I may be biased because she does play Norma Bates in Bates Motel, which is one of my current favorite TV shows. But oh well. She was still good. Also great was the young girl who was possessed for much of the movie. Her name is Madison Wolfe and I'll be looking out for her from now on. I love myself a great child actor. They're hard to come by.

Overall, The Conjuring 2 was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I will give it huge props because most horror sequels are pure garbage, which is why I initially put it on the list of movies I was worried about heading into this year. But it turned out to be better than most horror movies in general and one of the best horror sequels. If you're one who is easily pleased with all these horror movies that come out, you should quickly run out to see The Conjuring 2 because you'll love it. If you loved The Conjuring and you aren't bothered by a movie that spends its entire run time lying to you about it being a true story, then you should also run out to see this because you will love this. But personally that was my hangup. Any movie that spends this much time trying to prove that its a true story, in my opinion better be the truest story ever told. But it's not. The whole thing is pretty bogus and that made me mad. But like I said, if it was a well-crafted horror movie, I would give it a pass. But that aspect of it was a mixed bag and this I am giving it a mixed review. I was more bored than scared for the first two-thirds of the movie and the evil spirit haunting the house was pretty dull. But the ending, while not as good as the first, was pretty fantastic and completely saved the movie. Thus my grade for The Conjuring 2 is a 7/10.

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