For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated with stories about things that go bump in the night. I even read Ed and Lorraine Warren’s biography The Demonologist… So going into the film I was very much aware of The Enfield Poltergeist case and when it comes to horror movies who doesn’t love seeing the tagline “Based on a true story…”
1977 – A single mother raising four children alone in a house inundated by a malicious spirit seeks the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren, when the youngest daughter, Janet, starts showing signs of demonic possession. Plagued with her own battling demons, Lorraine and Ed travel to north London attempting to help the besieged girl.
James Wan, knows all the tricks and treats of scaring an audience. I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of the film, which resulted in a very full cinema where audible gasps and frightened giggles were heard throughout. Unfortunately, the sequel doesn’t quite have the same charm as its predecessor. The characters felt secondary, and it seems this time round Wan focuses more on the scares as opposed to character. Although for a horror movie is that entirely bad?
With spine tingling skill, Wan creates genuinely spooky scenes and a consistent chill throughout the entire film, which is an impressive feat as the running time clocks in at 134 minutes. Experienced in the horror genre, Wan avoids traditional jump scare tactics, knowing it is much scarier to stay in the one wide shot as alike to what the real world is. Although, there are plenty of jump scares the movie isn’t overly reliant on them. The gloomy cinematography provides a richly atmospheric charisma and the elegantly composed and staged period detail is authentically charming.
It too was fun to see Wan’s vision of the infamous Amityville case. You would think I sigh or roll my eyes from again seeing a rehash of the notorious event, but something almost felt pleasing about it. But not pleasing enough to warrant another spin off story, similar to the Annabelle debacle. Plus, there is legit already 15 Amityville movies, no one is asking for another…
The Amityville entry also provides the devilishly good sub plot of Lorraine’s personal turmoil. Reminiscent of Wan’s villainous character ‘Bride in Black’ from his 2011 creeper Insidious, we have the ‘Demonic Nun’. Appropriately nightmarish, there is one specific scene of a painting on a wall that will send chills down your spine.
With chills and thrills galore, there are surprisingly truly funny moments too. As Ed picks up a gigantic old school shoulder camera he happily exclaims “It’s so light!”. The tongue in cheek comedy is a welcome addition, that allows the audience to get their breath back.
I would have enjoyed more character depth, the brothers and sisters are thinly stretched and there wasn’t enough time spent with Frances O’Connor the poor single mother (Peggy). Madison Wolfe (Janet) shines as the tormented young girl, displaying intelligence, charm and a large range of emotion as the sympathetic victim / bitter brute old man.
With twice the scares, Wan unfortunately sacrifices it for a weaker narrative. Although the ending seemed rush Wan knows how to create suspense and terror throughout. His simple scares are the scariest and the film is again another great addition from James Wan.
8.5 / 10
“All I can sense is their own fear”