2013's The Conjuring is perhaps one of my favourite horror films in recent memory; it was chilling and terrifying. The film was a huge success, both commercially and critically, so a sequel was inevitable. This year, James Wan returns to the franchise with The Conjuring 2.

Once again revolving around the true, real-life case studies of paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), The Conjuring 2 follows our lead couple as they head to London to investigate their latest case. When single mother Peggy (Frances O'Connor) and her family fall victim to the dark, evil spirits residing within their home, even going to the extent of possessing one of Peggy's young daughters Janet (Madison Wolfe), the Warrens are quickly brought onto the case - after it gains lots of media traction - and sent to the Enfield house to get to the bottom of what's going on. However, upon arrival, they soon realise just how terrifying the forces haunting this family are when things begin to go awry for them all.
It's pretty rare for us to see a good, solid, scary and original horror film these days - take into account all the horror films that have released in the past couple of years and only a small few will actually have been great. Even more of a rarity than seeing a good horror film, however, is seeing a good horror sequel. Most tend to be cash-grabs, cashing in on the success of their predecessors. Yet, what makes The Conjuring 2 so special is that no only is a sequel to what was a good, scary and original horror film but it is a great horror sequel too - in fact, this may even be on par with the original, which, as I mentioned, was a truly incredible horror film. James Wan turned down a "life-altering" sum of money to direct Fast 8, to direct this instead. It's clear why. This is a film so lauded with love and passion. Wan is the master of the horror genre and he really brings his A-game to this.

The direction is great and Wan superbly orchestrates the tension to create an unsettling, chilling atmosphere and heightened and intense scares. The horror flows thick and fast, right from the off, and Wan does a good job at scaring the audience, with his brilliant craft creating scares that are effective and frightening. The film does occasionally fall back on genre tropes and clichéd jump-scares but, in the hands of this director, it works effectively and doesn't feel quite like a cop-out gimmick as it does in most other horror films of lesser quality. There's only so much you can do with a horror film but Wan executes the genre's conventions and clichés in an efficient, meaningful manner to create scares that are terrifying and intense. Because, if there's one thing this film does well, it's scare it's audience. If you're a fan of the genre, there's plenty here to keep you on the edge of your seat.
However, what puts The Conjuring 2 a par above most other horror sequels, and even just most horror films for that matter, is the screenplay and the story - from horror aficionados Carey and Chad Hayes. Like it's predecessor, this is a film that takes time to create an involving and purposeful narrative with genuine, fleshed out and well realised characters. We care for the Warrens and invest in their tender relationship. Contrary to most films in this genre, some of the film's strongest scenes lie within the slower, quieter character building moments rather than the intense scares. There's lots of emotional depth and weight to these characters which adds stakes and meaning to everything going on. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are both great once again, with their palpable and believable chemistry. We root for them and empathise for them. However, it's the young Madison Wolfe that steals the show here. You believe everything that her character is going through and she gives a truly remarkable, chilling performance as the possessed Janet.

The Conjuring 2 never quite feels superior than it's predecessor but, then again, that was a high bar to reach. However, it is just as good as the original, which is a testament to James Wan and the Hayes Brothers. Not only is this a great horror movie, it's just a great film. The writing, the directing and acting are all great; the cinematography is slick and it's a very wonderful, polished off film; it's scary, emotional, thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable. Sure, the reliance on genre tropes can be tedious and unoriginal to some extent but Wan executes the clichés effectively and purposefully. The Conjuring 2 is one of the best horror sequels out there. Rarely do I ask for more when it comes to this genre but let's go 3 for 3, with a trilogy. Bring on The Conjuring 3.

With James Wan's expert genre craftsmanship and slick storytelling, The Conjuring 2 is a terrifying sequel with a compelling edge; matching, if never quite surpassing, its predecessor, this is a scary, emotional and bloody good horror.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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