While 2013’s “The Conjuring” managed to become a modern horror classic rather quickly thanks to its effective screenplay, terrific performances (particularly by Vera Farmiga and the always-excellent Lili Taylor), and slow-build horror scares that packed a punch, its bloated, overlong sequel seems to go in the opposite direction. On paper, documenting the Enfield poltergeist – allegedly one of the most well-documented cases of real-life paranormal activity – is a good move for the sequel: It has the weight of media validity, not to mention the strong directorial vision of James Wan, as well as the gravitas of returning stars Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. But the drab setting, drained color palette, and strained performances of both Frances O’Connor (as a frightened mother whose daughter is alternately haunted and possessed) and her on-screen children erode the audience’s enjoyment, negating any fun-scares to be had along the way. What’s left is a preposterous 133-minute running time with a dragged-out climax that feels both disjointed and purposeless, and while a few moments here and there manage to raise some goosebumps, the majority of the scares are too thunderous to register. The movie manages to remain watchable thanks to the likable duo of Farmiga and Wilson as well as residual good-will from the first movie, but let’s hope the filmmakers learned from their mistakes here before taking on the inevitable third film.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)
You can watch the trailer here: