Subcutaneous Magazine Issue 1 - Page 61

The Conjuring 2 A Movie Review by Caroline Field For the past few years it seems like Hollywood has given up on making the horror genre popular again. Although "It Follows" and "The Witch" were popular in the box office, movies like "The Forest" and "The Darkness" were terrible additions to the genre that is supposed to make our blood boil and turn our hair white. With major studios hashing out stereotypical tropes and lame jump-scares, how are horror fans supposed to cope with the declining state of originality in scariness? Enter James Wan, Malaysian-born Australian director, with "The Conjuring," a smash hit that made us grip the edge of our seats in fear. The true story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and the Perron family made audiences scream in theaters across the nation. Wan scored a sequel to the box office success almost instantly. So when "The Conjuring 2" was announced in December 2015, horror fans were excited to see what the horror master had in store. Grabbing my popcorn and a friend to hold onto (hopefully in terror), I settled down in my plush seat at the local theater on opening day. I’d been following the news about the movie for months, and I was even more excited since I overheard a theater employee tell his co-worker that a man crapped his pants at one part in the film. “I bet at least one person will soil himself again," the employee chuckled as he swept dirty popcorn off the floor. The small room was packed full of fellow horror fans and a person dressed up as Annabelle, a creepy doll from the first film, which I found to be in bad taste. "Annabelle" wasn’t that great of a spin-off movie in the first place, but to each fan their own. It’s not like anyone can dress in 70’s clothing (the era in which the film takes place) without looking like they belong in a cult anyways. The lights dimmed and the small conversations ceased as the film that was (hopefully) going to save the horror genre began. Immediately, we're propelled into a seance led by Lorraine, as her husband Ed watches nearby. We learn that the duo are investigating the infamous Amityville house, and we watch Lorraine enter into the spirit realm by simply closing her eyes. I hear my friend whimper beside me as Lorraine walks throughout the house, following a small child with white eyes. A few disturbing images later and a really good jump-scare, and we have the rolling title screen. One year later at the Enfield council house, the Hodgson family resides in unified poverty. Janet, the eldest of the four children, is sad about her father’s lack of presence in her life and she plays with an ouija board often as her coping mechanism (very cliche, if you ask me). At this point, I wasn’t impressed with the film since it was following usual as-of-late Hollywood tropes (estranged family, weird child, etc.). I was actually considering walking out. That was, until, the first signs of the haunting began. Wan knows how to use silence to play with our emotions. After the haunting and subsequent possession began, I was gripping the edges of my seat so hard my knuckles turned white. There is true horror in slow silence, and Wan weaves an orchestra of terror as the film continues and the Warrens get involved in the media-driven paranormal case. As Janet is haunted by the spirit of an old man who invades her home and as she slowly gets possessed by him, Lorraine is followed by possibly the creepiest demon-nun in all of horror history. This demon nun is obviously one of the best parts of the entire movie. The entire time she was on-screen, everyone in the theater held their breath. There is a brilliant scene between Lorraine and the demon-nun that made one audience member pee his pants (just as the theater employee predicted) and he had to excuse himself. Through careful choices in costume and behavior, I could understand why that poor man soiled himself, as I was close to doing that as well. Janet’s possession escalates about halfway through the movie and a new demon manifests through the form of a crooked man. This was, sad to say, the worst part of the movie. As a cinephile, there was never as disappointing a moment as from the moment I saw that obviously CGI-created monster. Moments that were supposed to be terrifying because of his presence actually made some audience members laugh. The climax of the film is very emotional.The bond that Ed and Lorraine have with each other is pushed to the limits as they remain trapped on opposite sides of a door in the pouring rain. Their connection is the main focus of the character development that we see on-screen, and as a consequence it seems that the emotions of the Hodgson family are pushed to the side. It is rare that we see an emotional break in a family during a stressful time, and while the film does touch on the separation of the family and Janet a little, I found myself craving more of that tension.