Review of The Conjuring 2

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Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren heed their call and once again come to the aid of a family that is plagued by evil spirits. This time, their call takes them across the ocean. They pack their bags and leave their New England home, bound for “Old” England, where they are to investigate a phenomenon that has been described as “London’s Amityville.” The Hodgson household consists of a single mother, her four children, and one or two unwanted presences. Will the Warrens be able to rid their home of these unwanted guests? And, more specifically, will they be able to help Janet Hodgson – the young girl who frequently becomes possessed by this evil? Go see The Conjuring 2 and these questions will be answered. Until then, read the rest of this article for informative tidbits and opinions.

Oh good, you listened to me and continued reading. Let’s begin with some background information. For those new to The Conjuring series, the reoccurring characters of Ed and Lorraine Warren are based on a real married couple that investigated paranormal phenomenon back in the 1970’s and 80’s. According to wikipedia, the Warrens claimed to have investigated over 10,000 cases of “actual” or “potential” of supernatural activity. Does this mean that we should settle in for 10,000 movies? Probably not – that’s overkill. But the Warren case files have spawned several movies, including both Conjuring movies. The first film is based on the 1971 Perron Family case – ghosts and or/demons haunt the Rhode Island home of this poor family (click here to read my review of The Conjuring). This second film is based on the Enfield Poltergeist case, which documents moving furniture, overturned chairs and levitating children. The film shows all this and so much more. Other films loosely related to the Warrens are AnnabelleThe Haunting in Connecticut, and The Amityville Horror. While there are no references to the Warrens in The Haunting in Connecticut and Amityville Horror, The Conjuring 2 opens with Ed and Lorraine investigating the Amityville House after The Lutz’s have fled. In order to determine if there is an evil presence associated with the house, Lorraine uses her skills as a medium to experience the horrific murders that claimed the lives of The Defeos –the family that lived in the house before The Lutz’s. From the killer’s perspective, she comes to understand what happened that fateful evening while uncovering a clue she does not yet understand, for it is a clue that is linked to things that would occur later in the Hodgson house. This opening sequence is brutal, chilling and captivating all at the same time.

So, what did I think of the rest of the movie? Before I get into that, let me be honest about the-conjuring-2certain biases on my part. First, I prefer the ghosts and demons of films and literature to be somewhat elusive; their origins speculative, their nature not limited to the narrow parameters of “good” and “evil”. The spirits of The Conjuring films are evil demons as defined by the Bible. Adhering to tradition of well-known demon lore, we assume they will take possession of someone, mostly likely a young woman. We suppose that the possessed victim will at some point rant in a guttural, inhuman voice. We expect the demons to get a little testy when confronted with a crucifix – the symbol of “goodness.” All of these assumptions, suppositions, and expectations come true. Second, I favor unhurried and carefully crafted atmospheres of disturbances to the flashy and loud jump scares. Creepy over shocking, I say! The Conjuring 2 has a lot of jump scares for sure, more than its predecessor. For these reasons, it is doubtful that any films of The Conjuring series will make it to the top of my preferences list.

All this being said, The Conjuring 2 is a decent film with plenty of scares for everyone. While the film relies heavily on “jump scares”, they are done effectively and creatively. A person or object is on one side of the room and then suddenly, there s/he/it is right before the camera and this “jump” is unexpected. The ghosts and demons in this film manifest in scary forms. If you are the type of person that wants to see the phantoms that are doing the haunting, you will not be disappointed. And overall, the acting is good, the characters are sympathetic, and there are some touching moments outside of the realms of the scare factor.

I’ll let you be the judge as to what’s “true” about this film. In my opinion, it is fiction based on fabrications of truth. Ah but who am I? Maybe the events portrayed in this film are very real for some of you. If so, great – all the more reason to be scared. And isn’t that why we see horror movies in the first place – to be scared?



Thank you for reading this article.  If you enjoy my writing, please consider buying my latest book The House Sitter.  A writer/house sitter haunts a house with his stories. They haunt him back in return. Click on picture to see the book on Amazon


Review of The Haunting in Connecticut

hauntinginconnecticutart1If you have read any of my other reviews, then it should be obvious that when it comes to film techniques of horror movies, I prefer the old skool, atmospheric style to all the modern flashy pizzazz. I like establishing shots that capture the haunted house and sit long enough on the screen to embed the place into my mind. I like shadows to slowly creep around the corners. I like a patient camera that captures a ghost leisurely trespassing across a room. Sounds and music are for the background and they should set the mood with careful effort.

Before watching this movie, I had a hunch that The Haunting in Connecticut would have none of the aforementioned style.   And I was right – it most certainly did not. I had based my hunch on taglines or reviews that were largely negative.


“35th boo scare in as many minutes,” (Nick Rogers, Suite

“A run-of-the-mill spooker that often opts for Dolby jolts and Avid farts over character investment” – (William Goss – Cinematical)

The Haunting in Connecticut is loaded with high-octane scares. Ghosts come and go like annoying flashes of light. Their appearances are usually accompanied by loud, “jolting” sounds. (Good word choice, William Goss!) Through the eyes of the haunting-in-connecticut_ghostly monstersprotagonist as he becomes possessed by a spirit, movie viewers see glimpses of haunting scenes from a long time ago. These glimpses flash on the screen back to back as if there was some kind of editing contest that awards the greatest number of shots within a 30 second sequence.

As I already mentioned, I am not a fan of this style of filmmaking. However, from the beginning, fully aware of my bias, I was hoping that underneath this not-so-subtle style, I would find something that I liked about the movie. Underneath the flashes and jolts, will there be some redeeming qualities? I did find things that I liked, but what I found was not enough to redeem the film. In addition, I also found more things I didn’t like as well.

Matthew Campbell is a teenager that ails with cancer. He and his family live in New York, but Matthew is receiving special treatment from a hospital in Connecticut. To avoid the continuous long drives, they rent out a house in Connecticut. The family can’t afford much, and the rent is too cheap to pass up. There’s a reason for the cheap price – the house used to be a funeral home. And some not so groovy stuff happened in this funeral home back in the day.

From day one, Matthew is seeing ghosts. Or is he hallucinating? No one else in his family is experiencing anything unusual. The medication he is taking for his cancer treatment is experimental. Hallucinations are one of the side effects. But there might The-Haunting-in-Connecticut door scratchbe something else going on that explains why he is the only family member to experience these hauntings. At the treatment center, Matthew meets a pastor who is also suffering from cancer. He confides in him about what he sees. Reverend Nicholas Popescu understands. He explains to him that only people like them can understand. They are dying and therefore are living “in the valley of the shadow of death”. Those “in the valley” are most susceptible to ghostly encounters.

At this point, I was in. I was on the road toward viewing this movie as more positive than negative. Of course I knew Matthew wasn’t hallucinating. Or may the ghosts were somehow a byproduct of both the medication and his tiptoeing excursions among the shadows of death? I was intrigued and very much drawn into the whole The-Haunting-in-Connecticut-ghosts surround himvalley of death concept – One foot in the mundane world and the other in the spectral plane. I imagined this experience to be kind of like a person half-asleep and seeing shards of a dream within the wakeful world. Add hallucinations into the mix along with a house that has a haunted history and one has the makings of a good story.

But then the film strays from mystery gets bogged down in formula. Soon the family begins to experience disturbances and this cheapens the plot of Matthew’s lone plight. Matthew and his cousin (or is it his sister? I forget) take it upon themselves to do library research about the house and its previous owners where they sort of have a Harry Potter and Hermione moment. Or are they Nancy Drew and some Hardy boy? Whichever. All I know is that it was lame.

The Haunting in Connecticut  is loosely based on a book, In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting (1992) , written by Ray Garton along with “real” paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. (See my review of The Conjuring, which featured this “dynamic duo or the paranormal” as characters.)   However, Garton has claimed that the accounts written in the book are unreliable and anything but true. So what you are getting with this film is a story loosely based on a book, which was loosely based on reality. A lot of “loosely” stuff going on here. Maybe this is the reason that it did not have a tightly themed plot?