The Conjuring II: A Review

The Conjuring 2 is in theaters now and I went to see it with a friend a week ago. If you are not familiar with the story on which the movie is based, watch The Enfield Haunting. That movie is much closer to the real story than The Conjuring 2. Both films are based upon the well documented, true story of a poltergeist haunting in Enfield, England, in 1977. 
Here's the story in a nutshell: The Hodgson family is being haunted by a ghost named Bill, who knocks on walls, throws objects, moves furniture, breaks things, and speaks through the daughter, Janet. In the actual event, Maurice Grosse, a member of The Society for Psychical Research, is brought in to investigate the claims and spends quite a lot of time in the house. 

The world's oldest paranormal research organization, The Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882. The organization counted Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Sir Arther Conan Doyle among it's members. A journalist, Guy Lyon Playfair, investigated with Maurice Grosse, and spent nearly six months on the case. 

Mr. Grosse claimed to have witnessed objects flying across the room, sofas tipping over, tables and chests of drawers moving on their own, stones flying right over the house, coins dropping out of the air, unexplained knocks and bangs on the walls, and disembodied voices. 

The Enfield Haunting cast

The real Hodgson family. Janet, mother, brother and sister.

There were other investigators who visited from the Society, as well as neighbors who were called in for help and witnessed phenomena themselves. Two police officers were also called for help and witnessed furniture moving. It is true that Ed and Lorraine Warren visited the house for one day, but their visit is rarely mentioned in accounts of the haunting. There really was a man named Bill who lived in the house and died as Janet described. These facts are historically documented. 
The children have admitted to faking "some" of the phenomena, but, to this day, claim that almost all of what they experienced was very real. 
The movie features Lorraine and Ed Warren, the famous paranormal investigator duo from Connecticut, who travel to north London to help a single mother, raising four children, alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit. The director is James Wan, of The Conjuring fame. 
In a very odd and surprising but puzzling beginning to the story, we are with Ed and Lorraine Warren at the Amityville Horror haunting location. Perhaps the director felt that the audience needed to introduce Ed and Lorraine Warren as the famous investigators of the super-famous Amityville horror haunting before moving on to Enfield. 
Many readers may or may not be aware that the Amityville haunting story is highly controversial, and has been accused of being faked and nearly false in it's entirety. That is why I thought it was odd to open the movie this way. It seems the director could be assuming that his audience is not aware of this controversy. 

The movie claims to be based on a true story. For two-thirds of the movie, the information about the haunting is fairly accurate. I also felt that the first hour of the film was very scary and extremely well done. The pace was slow in building anxiety and tension. They don't show us a lot at first, in order to tap into the audience's imagination. I liked this a lot. It reminded me of M. Knight Shamalan's masterful film, The Sixth Sense. 

However, for some reason that escapes me, the director decides to take the movie, not only into fiction-land, where we now depart from any semblance of basis in fact, but the haunting goes to a place where all movie hauntings seem to be going now.  We have demons, flying bodies, violence, very strong wind (is it windy in the afterlife for some reason?) and an absurd scene were Ed is hanging onto Janet's hand for dear life while she dangles out the window above an inexplicably sharp, broken tree branch. We imagine her being horribly impaled upon the branch-turned-spike, while Lorraine levitates high up on the wall. This reminds me of the first season of the TV show, Supernatural, when the yellow-eyed demon levitates Dean's and Sam's mom against the ceiling and sets her on fire. The movie also gives Janet demonic yellow eyes and portrays her as possessed.  Is she a kissing cousin of the Winchester's yellow-eyed demon? 

None of this happened. None of this even remotely happened. As a simple, verifiable matter of fact, the Warrens were not there for more than one day and had no lengthy dealings with the family. 
The last twenty minutes of this movie are so ramped up, so silly, so reminiscent of a Supernatural episode, just without the tongue-in-cheek wit of the show, and so unbelievable, that it not only ruins the story for me, but went from being very scary to very silly. 

Is this as good as it gets now? Why didn't the director stick to the truth?  The facts of this case were scary enough to make for a great film. Is he giving the audience what he believes they want; demons, possession, ridiculous paranormal activity, and the romanticizing of two characters as a set up for the next movie in the series? 

Oh, I almost forgot. My favorite part of the movie is when Ed Warren suddenly becomes a painter, and paints a portrait of a demonic nun ( and we all know how scary nuns can be), who walks around the Warren's home scaring the @#$% out of Lorraine. I have no idea what this nun has to do with the Enfield haunting. However, I did read that this demon-nun may be the subject of a future movie. Oh, goodie. 

I did take note that The Society for Psychical Research spent six months investigating this haunting case. Six months is not the length of time that today's "teams" of so-called paranormal investigators take to investigate claims of a haunting. It is now more like four hours or one night if you are lucky. What evidence can be gathered in a few hours? None. Ok, almost none, probably. All claims of hauntings should be investigated over a long period of time. If not, the investigation is pretty worthless. Fun, maybe, like an amusement park ride, but worthless as scientific proof of anything opinion.

My issue with this movie is my issue with most paranormal movies and TV shows. They claim to be true when we all know they are nothing but lies, lies, lies. 

I do recommend going to see the movie if you like a good scare. It delivers this in the first hour. However, if you want the true story of the Enfield Haunting, watch the older movie by the same name or read about the case.


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