I love the classic haunted house films like the original The Haunting that left almost everything to the viewer’s imagination, and I am a sucker for the “real life” TV shows about ghostly encounters (though not so much the ghost hunting type of show which is a bunch of “did you see that” stuff that’s never captured on the umpteen number of cameras they have filming the investigation). So it was such a pleasure to see a new movie about a haunted house that combined the best of both the movie and TV worlds of hauntings in The Conjuring.
This year brought the long-awaited sequel The Conjuring 2, once again starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as real life spiritualists Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens are famous (or infamous in some circles) for their cases of hauntings and demonic encounters, and the new film spotlights one of their most famous (after Amityville) cases, the Enfield haunting in England.
The film has been previously reviewed on Hotchka so I won’t go too much into the plot again here. Suffice it to say the new film takes the smaller scale of the original and expands it by taking the Warrens to the outskirts of London to investigate the claims of a spirit haunting a single mum and her children, focusing mainly on the youngest sister. Like with any James Wan directed and produced horror flick, this one relies more on the practical effects to create scares rather than a bunch of CGI spooks. Even one creature most viewers assumed was CGI, The Crooked Man, causing some ire directed at Wan actually turns out to be a costumed actor. What also sets these films apart from the routine haunting movie is the love story between Ed and Lorraine. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and both Farmiga and Wilson put all that love and emotion on the screen.
If there’s any single nitpick about the movie, it’s the needless addition of the spooky demon nun which had nothing to do with the actual Enfield haunting, and was actually added to the film after production was completed, necessitating some reshoots (and apparently the character is now getting a spin-off film like Annabelle from the first movie). Yeah, she’s creepy but it takes a little away from the main story.
The Conjuring 2, now available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, looks terrific on Blu-ray. The early scenes set in the US have an autumnal golden hue — or it could just be the ugly 1970s color scheme consisting mostly of oranges and browns (no reflection on the film itself, just a fact of the era) — while the English settings are desaturated and bluish in tint to reflect the winter season and the poverty of the surroundings. Wan is famous for using deep darkness to hide things from the viewers, or to just create the sense of dread that there might be something there, and the Blu-ray accurately reproduces those inky blacks for the home viewer as well. The video image is nigh-on spotless.
The Dolby Atmos audio track truly surrounds the viewer with the sounds of a haunted house with bangs, creaks and ghostly voices coming from all around the room (and even overhead for those with an Atmos set-up). Main dialog is always clear, front and center, and even the distorted voices of the spirits come through distinctly. Overall, this is another stellar presentation from Warner Bros.
The Blu-ray’s extras include:
- Crafting The Conjuring 2 (10:09) – A behind-the-scenes look at the care that went into the making of the film, from the cast to the production design which included building an actual two story house as a set.
- The Enfield Poltergeist: Living the Horror (12:45) – The grown Hodgson children relate their true experiences depicted in the film. Highlights include the sisters visiting the set and reuniting with Lorraine Warren for the first time in 38 years.
- Creating Crooked (6:41) – A featurette that completely refutes the notion many had upon the film’s release that the Crooked Man character was CGI.
- The Conjuring 2: Hollywood’s Haunted Stage (5:05) – Ghost hunter and WB studio security guard Johnny Matook investigates hauntings on the WB soundstage where the movie was filmed.
- The Sounds of Scary (6:59) – Composer Joseph Bishara discusses creating the musical score for the film.
- Deleted Scenes (6:31)
If you’re looking to add some scares to your Halloween, or any time of the year, The Conjuring 2 is the film to do it!
WBHE generously provided Hotchka with a Blu-ray copy of the film for reviewing purposes.