Commentaries

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

HORROR NEEDS RELIGIOUS THEME



THE CONJURING 2

Film Review by Fiore 


Director James Wan may be weary of doing horror films, but he certainly excels in the genre.  The original THE CONJURING won the coveted FIST OF FIORE AWARD signifying excellence in film entertainment.  Though the latest in the series, THE CONJURING 2 slips a bit, it is still an excellent horror film sure to provide plenty of chills.  On the downside for this outing is a script that has a tendency to meander, an ending that is a bit too abrupt for its set up and a glaring plot hole.  Still, THE CONJURING 2 offers its fair share of tense moments, bump-in-the-night elements and solid acting to push it past the average horror flick.

The story begins with Ed and Lorraine Warren, the demon-busting husband and wife team, stylishly portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, wrapping up the case of the Amityville Horror.  Apparently, while Amityville is coming to its conclusion, a similar, but certainly more sinister possession is occurring in England.  Authorities across the pond are perplexed as to the occurrences in the Hodgson household, especially with 14 year old Janet Hodgson. 

It is not long before the Warrens are asked, by the Catholic Church, to investigate the incident and determine if the priests and exorcists should become involved officially.  In the transition, Lorraine has a vision of a demon, named Valak, in the guise of a Satanic nun.  The irony of a demonic nun is devilishly delicious, and sure to send shivers down the spines of all who attended Catholic elementary schools. If the producers had put a wooden ruler in its hand, it would have been even more terrifying.
 
Starring with Wilson and Farmiga are: Madison Wofle as Janet Hodgson; Frances O’Conor as the mom, Peggy Hodgson; Laruen Esposito, Benjamin Haigh and Patrick McAuley as the rest of the Hodgson family; Simon McBurney as Maurice Grosse, the British paranormal scientist; Bonnie Aarons as Valak; and Javier Botet as the Crocked Man.  Wofle is quite convincing as the possessed little girl and McBurney, though quirky in make-up, is nearly a dead-ringer for his character.  There is plenty of foreshadowing in the story, and the actors utilize the scenes well.

KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.    The nun demon portrait and shadow room
2.    The water basement scene
3.    The police arrive at the house.

One of the key elements that made THE CONJURING scary was its basis in religion.  Horror films, after the initial craze spawned by THE EXORCIST, in typical Hollywood fashion, sought to distance themselves from religion.  Viruses, nature, greedy corporations or demented psychopaths replaced God and Satan in the battle of good and evil.  Returning to the origins of mankind’s conflicts struck a primeval chord, especially when embodied in an horrific doll.

The religious themes are drastically reduced in THE CONJURING 2.  It is a shame for the scenes in which the theme is present are truly the film’s strongest.  Even though religion is downplayed, there is enough to bring an unsettling tension to the plot.

Cinematographer and Production Designer Don Burgess and Julie Berghoff, respectively, offer a tasty tidbit of horror SFX.  While there is nothing new, the template techniques are peppered throughout the film in correct proportion for a winning recipe.  The film is augmented in mien mightily by the musical score of Joseph Bishara.

THE CONJURING 2’s biggest flaws come with the script.  Screenwriters Carey and Chad Hayes drag the film in the second act.  While it’s essential to establish the trickery of the demon, the tome is repetitious.  The opening sequence in Amityville is rendered moot, because the Hayes never establish a celluloid connection between the Warren’s last case and their trip to England.  Why did the demon show itself to Lorraine at the conclusion of Amityville?  What significance, and what connection exists between the haunting in the two towns?  How did one possession have a cause and effect element with the other?  All these questions are left unanswered, and in some cases, are unaddressed completely, creating a befuddling chasm in the storyline.

All told, THE CONJURING 2 is worth a view.  Despite its plot problems, it provides enough edge of the seat sequences, and just enough plot twists to justify the price of admission.  Spooky stuff.





THE GRADE FOR THE CONJURING 2 = B


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