Film Review: The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2

Director, producer and co-writer James Wan has created a genuinely scary horror movie with The Conjuring 2. It is Wan’s best horror film to date.

A mother and her four children begin to experience strange occurrences in their home in Enfield, North London. With professionals stumped by the strange case, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to the UK to investigate…

The Conjuring 2 outshines its predecessor The Conjuring in terms of fear, atmosphere and engagement. The film delivers a palpable sense of apprehension for much of its two hour plus running time. There are a few times that the film veers into sentimental territory, but these are balanced by plenty of scares.

The film is set in late 1970s England. The Conjuring 2 features an almost obligatory montage of London crowd shot to introduce the setting. Whilst this is a bit tired, the suburban backdrop of Enfield gives the impression that supernatural activity could happen anywhere. Unlike the remote farmhouses of other horror films, there is a normality to the setting which is unnerving.

Wan appears to throw everything into the film in order to produce frights. The Conjuring 2 is heavy on jump scares, yet these are effective most of the time. Some of the more supernatural elements seem overexposed, and yet Wan throws in a number of red herrings which work effectively. The central antagonist is a genuinely frightening spectre.

By the time the film reaches its conclusion, fear gives way to violence. The threat has transformed into something tangible, requiring sufficient action to combat. Although the ending is a little predictable, it is a suitable ending for the film. There are several unnerving moments earlier in The Conjuring 2 to compensate for the lack of terror in the ending.Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles well. Frances O’Connor does a decent job as the frantic mother, whilst Madison Wolfe is believable as the young Janet.

The Conjuring 2 feels like a finale to James Wan’s series of horror films. If this turns out to be the case, the series certainly ends on a high.

Previews: The Conjuring 2 trailer, The Jungle Book and more!

The first of the film previews for 2016, including The Conjuring 2 trailer, the latest poster for The Jungle Book and more…

The Conjuring 2 Trailer

The Conjuring 2 trailer promises more of the same from horror director James Wan. The follow-up to 2013’s The Conjuring sees Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as ghost hunters Lorraine and Ed Warren. With the action shifting to 1977 for the Enfield haunting, The Conjuring 2 will hit the big screen on 17th June 2016.

The Jungle Book Poster

The Jungle Book poster

Here is the latest poster for The Jungle Book. Jon Favreau directs the live action adaption of the famous tale. The film features an enviable voice cast which includes Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson. Newcomer Neel Sethi stars as young Mowgli. No word yet on whether there will be songs. The Jungle Book is set for release on 15th April 2016.

The Forest Trailer

The Forest is horror movie set in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest. The film stars Natalie Dormer as an American who travels to Japan to track down her missing twin sister. Also starring Tyler Kinney, The Forest will be released in UK cinemas on 26th February 2016.

Hail, Cesar! Poster

Hail, Cesar! Poster

Hail, Cesar! is the new comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen. Set during Hollywood’s Golden Age, the film concentrates on a day in the life of a studio fixer. Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton feature among the film’s stellar cast. A must see for those who love films about filmmaking, Hail, Cesar! hits UK cinemas on 4th March 2016.

Film Review: Annabelle

ANNABELLE

A spin-off from last year’s The Conjuring, Annabelle is a run of the mill horror in the familiar style of producer James Wan.

Expecting a child, young couple John and Mia suffer from a traumatic event. As they recover from this, Mia begins to notice strange occurrences in their home, which appear to be linked to a recently-bought doll…

Annabelle treads a familiar path as a supernatural horror movie. Director John R. Leonetti’s film sets up the archetypal normal protagonists which the audience will be able to relate to. The scene is pretty idyllic, before the inevitable danger strikes.

A major problem with the film is that the pacing is not great. Annabelle is not a long film, yet it feels rather leaden, particularly the middle third. Although the initial set up and the relationship between John and Mia needs to be established, there is a definite lack of momentum before the final third.

There are certainly a few trepidatious moments in Annabelle. Small effects early in the film are quite effective in setting the mood. There is a sequence involving an elevator later in the film which is finely executed. Sound design in the film is most effective in generating a sense of tension. Performances in the film are suitable, even if character motivations

As a period set film, Annabelle for the most part makes the most of the limitations of communication. The film makes direct reference to the Manson Family, and later features a sequence echoing real-life events. This clear allusion to a real tragedy feels distasteful in a outlandish horror such as Annabelle.

Some good atmospherics and genuinely unnerving moments are undone by the  common fallacy of reveal too much of the antagonist rather than leaving thoughts to fester in the minds of viewers. Annabelle will temporarily quench the thirst of those looking for a light horror fix, but ultimately is not memorable.

Stuff To Look At

A veritable cornucopia of film trailers, images and featurettes this week, including Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Lucy, The Imitation Game and more…

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Here is the trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine 2. A sequel to 2010’s hit comedy Hot Tub Time Machine, this instalment sees three of the four main characters venturing forward in time. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 will be released in the UK on 26th December 2014.

Fifty Shades of Grey

The hotly-anticipated trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey is here. Having not read the book, I am unsure whether this is what fans of the novel expect. Starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey is scheduled for release in UK cinemas on 13th February 2015.

Lucy

From the above clip, Lucy looks like it will be very entertaining. Luc Besson directs Scarlett Johansson in the sci-fi thriller, from Besson’s own screenplay. Lucy hits the big screen on 22nd August 2014.

The Expendables 3

And with every film, the cast keeps growing. The Expendables 3 sees some familar faces return, along with new additions such as Wesley Snipes and Harrison Ford. From the above featurette, it looks as if the cast had a lot of fun making the film. The Expendables 3 powers its way into cinemas on 14th August 2014.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max - Comic Con Signing Art

Here is the latest image from the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road, which was debuted at Comic Con this week. Although the thought of another belated sequel could be disappointing, this one is directed by original helmer George Miller and stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. Max Max: Fury Road is scheduled for release on 15th May 2015.

The Imitation Game

The first trailer for The Imitation Game was released this week, along with the news that the film will be opening the BFI London Film Festival in October. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game will receive a full release in UK cinemas on 14th November 2014.

Big Hero 6

The more I see of Big Hero 6, the more I am looking forward to the film. Big Hero 6 also reminds me how much I need a robot in my life. The film is due to be released in January 2015.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Here is the latest TV spot for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It looks as if there will be humour in the film, which is appealing. But the real question is, for where is Krang? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is out in UK cinemas on 17th October 2014.

Let’s Be Cops

Above is a clip from buddy-cop comedy Let’s Be Cops. Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson star as two friends who dress up as police officers for a costume party and end up being mistaken for the real thing. Let’s Be Cops hits the big screen on 27th August 2014.

Annabelle

Urgh, creepy, creepy, creepy dolls. Annabelle is a spin-off of last year’s horror The Conjuring. The film, which is being produced by horror maestro James Wan, is basically a reminder to never own sinister-looking dolls. Annabelle is set for release on 10th October 2014.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Exodus: Gods and Kings

So is this what Christian Bale has been growing his beard for? Ridley Scott directs epic Exodus: Gods and Kings.  The film stars Christian Bale as Moses, on his quest to free slaves from their Egyptian ruler. You can watch the trailer here. Exodus: Gods and Kings is released in UK cinemas on 26th December 2014.

Magic in the Moonlight

Woody Allen’s latest Magic in the Moonlight is an appealing proposition.  Set in the 1920s, Colin Firth plays a magician attempting to expose psychic Emma Stone. I cannot wait. Magic in the Moonlight is out in the UK on 19th September 2014.

Horrible Bosses 2

Here is the trailer for comedy sequel Horrible Bosses 2. I enjoyed the first film, so am tentatively looking forward to this. Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day return of this instalment, which is scheduled for release on 28th November 2014 in the UK.

Unbroken

Angelina Jolie directs Unbroken, the story of Olympian and war hero Louie Zamperini. With Joel and Ethan Coen among the screenwriters, Unbroken looks to be ticking all the boxes. The film will be released in UK cinemas on 26th December 2014.

Planes 2: Fire and Rescue

The sequel to spin-off Planes, Planes 2: Fire and Rescue sees protagonist Dusty swapping racing for fire fighting. The above clip gives a glimpse of his new team. Planes 2: Fire and Rescue races to the big screen on 8th August 2014.

Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm is based on the true story of a sports agent who travels to India to look for a young cricket he can transform into a star baseball player. Starring Jon Hamm, Million Dollar Arm is released in UK cinemas on 29th August 2014.

Film Review: The Conjuring

The Conjuring

The Conjuring is an atmospheric horror that successfully combines the visceral with the psychological.

In 1971, Carolyn and Roger Parren move into a Rhode Island farmhouse with their daughters. When strange events begin to occur in the house, Carolyn contacts noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to remove the dark presence…

The latest offering from James Wan, helmer of Saw and Insidious, combines elements of the haunted house film with that of an exorcism flick. This works for the most part, with the detective aspects being employed for expositional purposes.

The Conjuring builds tension in an effective manner. There are well-placed jumpy moments. These are executed with some restraint, rather than being an onslaught.

References to other horror movies begins with The Conjuring‘s opening titles. The film’s title on screen immediately evokes The Exorcist. This is not the only allusion to the 1973 film. Other horror films are also referenced in Wan’s film.

The only real let down is that too much is overstated in The Conjuring. Th film attempts to drop some red herrings but these fall like clangers rather than hints. The result is that the end game is rather predictable. This is only the case as The Conjuring adopts the tried and tested methods of horror films past.

Wan’s direction is solid. There are several nice transitional and tracking shots employed in the film. The sound is an effective tool in generating tension. For the most part, the film looks of the era it is set.

It is a nice touch that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are cast as the experienced investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, given that both actors could be considered veterans of the genre. Elsewhere, performances are decent.

There is enough in the film to give both the immediate jumps and disquieting feelings that should stay with viewers. The Conjuring is not perfect, but it is a very entertaining horror.

Stuff To Look At

Posters and trailers for some of the summer’s most anticipated releases here, including Only God Forgives, Elysium, and Kick-Ass 2

Only God Forgives

One of the most anticipated films of the year, Only God Forgives reunites Ryan Gosling with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. Also starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Only God Forgives hits UK screens on 2nd August 2013.

The Counsellor

I think ‘star-studded’ is the correct term with which to describe The Councellor. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Brad Pitt, The Counsellor  is due for release later this year.

Elysium

Here is the latest trailer for future-set blockbuster Elysium. The film, which stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, offers a dytopian vision of Earth, with its inhabits trying to get to a perfect planet. Elysium is released in UK cinemas on 23rd August 2013.

Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2 has been in the news thanks to Jim Carrey’s recent comments. I don’t think this bit of publicity will hurt the film’s box office chances too much. Kick-Ass 2 hits UK screens on 14th August 2013.

The Conjuring

Here is the latest trailer for horror The Conjuring. I tend to find a lot of recent horror films quite disappointing in their ability to scare. I hope The Conjuring will do the trick. The film is out in UK cinemas on 2nd August 2013.

Rush

Above is a featurette for upcoming biopic Rush. The film focuses on Formula 1 rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Rush is released on 13th September 2013.

Stuff To Look At

All manner of upcoming film-related items to occupy you for at least a few minutes…

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby has some mighty fine artwork. Art Deco reigns supreme in these new character posters. You can view the latest trailer for the film here. The Great Gatsby is out in UK cinemas on 16th May 2013.

The Hangover Part III

This new trailer for The Hangover Part III gives a good idea of the plot of the film. All the regular faces return for this final instalment, directed by Todd Phillips. The Hangover Part III is released in UK cinemas on 23rd May 2013.

21 and Over

21 and Over is a rites of passage comedy from the writers of The Hangover. Jeff Chang’s two best friends come to town to celebrate his 21st birthday, but he has an important interview the next morning. Starring Project X‘s Miles Teller, the trailer lets viewers know exactly what to expect. 21 and Over is out in UK cinemas on 3rd May 2013.

The Iceman

With a stellar cast that includes Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder and Ray Liotta, The Iceman is based on the story of real-life hitman Richard Kuklinski. The critically acclaimed film is due for release in the UK on 7th June 2013.

The Conjuring

Well this looks suitably terrifying. Here is the main trailer for horror movie The Conjuring. Starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, the film hits UK screens on 19th July 2013.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of audio-visual treats for your senses this week, with Iron Man 3, Spring Breakers, The Conjuring and more…

Iron Man 3

Cue the dramatic music! It’s all going down in the new Iron Man 3 trailer. Tony Stark faces a new and dangerous enemy! Pepper Potts is in danger! There is an army of Iron Men! Iron Man 3 is out in UK cinemas on 25th April 2013.

Spring Breakers

I can’t wait for Spring Breakers! James Franco as a gangster; what more do you want? Also starring a host of teen stars, Spring Breakers is directed by Harmony Korine. The film is released in the UK on 5th April 2013.

The Conjuring

Based on a true story, apparently, The Conjuring is the new horror from James Wan, director of Saw and Insidious. It is not clear what is in the house, but why is it clapping?! The Conjuring is released in UK cinemas on 19th July 2013.

Monsters University

Monsters University

Look at this wonderful poster! It is so colourful and fun. I am not sure what that orange pig-type creature is at the front, but I like it. Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters Inc., opens in UK cinemas on 12th July 2013.

Snitch

Dwayne Johnson stars in action thriller Snitch. The plot seems a bit implausible, but apparently the film was inspired by true events. Snitch is due for release in April 2013.