(US - 2016)
Directed by James Wan. Written by Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan and David Leslie Johnson. Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Frances O'Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Sterling Jerins, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Bob Adrian, Steve Coulter, Bonnie Aarons, Javier Botet, Joseph Bishara. (R, 134 mins)
Paranormal icons to some, fraudulent fundamentalist hucksters to others, the husband & wife ghostbusting team of Ed and Lorraine Warren made their name with their involvement in the investigation of the legendary Amityville house in the late 1970s (Lorraine is now 89; Ed died in 2006 at 79). As played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in James Wan's surprisingly terrific 2013 film THE CONJURING, the Warrens are an immensely likable couple with a deep-rooted sense of Christianity and family values, with Wan and the screenwriters never questioning their sincerity and legitimacy. Amityville has pretty much been debunked as a hoax for decades, but it still makes for entertaining cinema, and it provides a prologue for Wan's uneven sequel which, for a horror film, runs an epic length of well past two hours. While investigating the Amityville house in 1976, Lorraine saw the spectre of a demonic nun and had a premonition of Ed's death by impalement. She's further perturbed when Ed, unable to sleep, gets up and paints a picture of a face he saw in a dream--of course, it's the demon nun, though judging from the looks of it, it could've just as easily been a premonition of the coming of Marilyn Manson.
THE ENFIELD HAUNTING, with Timothy Spall as Grosse and no one as the Warrens since their characters aren't even in it) has been deemed a hoax by most investigators, though Grosse did feel it had some legitimacy. Taken on its own terms, THE CONJURING 2 isn't bad. It goes on far too long and there's only so many scary face-and-slamming door jump scares you can get hit with before it grows stale and repetitive. Wan does a great job with the period look and detail of the film, shooting it in drab, gray, muted tones indoors and a near-constant rain on the outside, really capturing the kind of gritty, '70s kitchen-sink British atmosphere that makes parts of this look like what might happen if Ken Loach or Mike Leigh made a demonic possession movie (bonus points for STARSKY & HUTCH superfan Margaret's wall adorned with David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser pics, faithfully recreated from actual 1977 file photos).