The various true stories surrounding paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren have interested people for years and years, and it'd be a crime to avoid crafting movies out of them. In 2013, James Wan's The Conjuring did so to enormous success, and this year he finally returns with a much desired sequel, which explores one of the Warrens' lesser known cases from 1970s London.
The Warrens are lead to London after the Hodgson family begin to experience strange occurrences within their council house in Enfield in 1977, which unveils further unsettling backstory regarding the house's former residents and beings that link to Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) herself. The story begins in two segments between the Warrens and the Hodgsons in England and America, with their narratives eventually conjoining once the true hauntings evolve into something truly sinister.
The only returning actors from the original film are Wilson and Farmiga, as this time we venture into the lifestyle of a new family that mostly features a lineup of child actors, all of whom provide surprisingly strong performances (particularly Madison Wolfe) that not only help us feel convinced when they are subjected to these haunting events, but also drawn into the developments of their characters, though perhaps the latter applies more to certain ones than others. Initially, the narrative focus is a bit strained as we shift abruptly between the Warrens and the Hodgsons, causing a feeling of rushed pacing, as if the Warrens themselves were an afterthought at times - while the Hodgsons are certainly nice to bond with and enjoyable to watch, the initial lack of true focus on the Warrens and balance between the two plot threads means the eventual converging doesn't feel as smooth as it should do.
The haunting scenes in the first Conjuring are some of the best in a recent horror flick to date. The tension builds up so well and the many jump scares are more than just cheap loud noises to scare you - instead actual freaky occurrences that leave a lasting fearful impression. The Conjuring 2 achieves the exact same merits, boasting a number of superbly staged and richly thrilling haunting sequences that I never wanted to end; being scared this much has never felt so good, and it's all down to a combination of eerie visuals, exceptional sound design, and genuine, absorbing performances. All this coupled with strong characters and a compelling narrative make the occasional hiccups in pacing and somewhat abrupt climax forgivable; and thus this equates to a worthy sequel that matches, and in some cases succeeds, the original.