The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Conjuring 2 The Conjuring 2 opens with the well-known Amityville case which took place in the late 1970s. The Warrens are gathered in the living room where a seance is about to begin. Lorraine goes into a trance which reminds me of The Further where she witnesses Ronald DeFeo murdering his own family of six with a shotgun. An intense segment that surpasses most of the countless Amityville films alone. Lorraine gets led down the cellar where she gets attacked by a creepy nun (yes, The Nun) that looks like the twin sister of Marilyn Manson and is about to see the most terrifying thing in her life. This is as close to Hell I ever wanna get, Lorraine says after waking up from the trance while sobbing in Ed’s arms. She’s had enough and wants to retire. Dream on, lady, cuz London is calling.


We then meet the struggling and freshly divorced mother Peggy Hodgson with her four kids who lives in a council house in the town of Enfield, north of London where the strong odor of black mold hits you like a brick. So does the old, brown leather chair that rots in the corner of the living room. The economy is in the toilet, times are bleak, and the only joy in life is to chew on biscuits while Margaret Thatcher is on TV bragging about her red dress. Things haven’t changed much.


Anyway, in order to avoid dying of total boredom under the already dire circumstances, the two daughters, Janet and Margaret, have made themselves a cute little spirit board to do exactly what it’s for. Janet starts to sleepwalk around the house and finds herself in the chair in the living room. She starts to behave like a Regan by growling and speaking in a raspy man’s voice and mumbling things like This is MY house! This, of course, scares her older sisters shitless, whom she shares the bedroom with and suggests that maybe it’s best to sleep with the lights on.


One of the sons in the house is also experiencing some creepy stuff at night, such as his toys starting to move by themselves and someone shouting BLAEEEEEERGHH from the tent in the hallway.


After Janet behaves more like she’s under the influence of some serious possession, the Hodgsons is being visited by a group of local paranormal investigators, lead by Maurice Grosse. The skeptic and psychologist Anita Gregory is also on the spot, who can’t wait to debunk the whole thing as a hoax. In real-life she described the Enfield case as “greatly exaggerated” and “pathetic”.


The Conjuring 2


We soon learn that the entity who has claimed the meat suit of Janet is a fellow named Bill Wilkins, and that he’s an old, grumpy man straight from the grave who only wants his house back. And while our experts scratch their heads and bollocks and don’t know what to do, the case goes to Ed and Lorraine Warren. Lorraine is very reluctant to do another case due to what she saw in the cellar in the Amityville house, while Ed is ready for action like a kid on Christmas Eve. And it also happens to be around Christmastime. How convenient.


And here’s a quick history class: Guy Lyon Playfair, one of the original paranormal investigators on The Enfield Poltergeist Case who worked alongside with Maurise Grosse, came forward prior to the movie’s release and said that the Warrens had showed up “uninvited” and only stayed for a day. Ed, on the other hand, claimed that he visited the place three times by himself while Lorraine was home presumably feeding her roosters. So who’s lying?


One of the few facts we can take from the film is Bill Wilkins, who lived in the house before the Hodgsons and had died of a brain hemorrhage while he sat in the chair we see in the film. This has been confirmed by his son, Terry. Other than this, there’s no info to find about this poor old bloke Billy, and no gravestones were vandalized this time.


The family’s mother, Peggy, kept living in the house until she died in 2003. Rumors say that she died in the same chair as Bill. That’s grim. So its appropriate to ask if it was the chair all along that was the cursed villain here and why Ed didn’t claim the chair to bring it home to his occult museum  so we could have the spin-off The Chair, from the producers of Killer Sofa.


Now, back to the movie:

Yeah, so what more is there to say other than “if you liked the first one you’d also like this?” This one has longer screen time which ticks over two hours, but thanks to James Wan being the master of suspense that he is, it flew away in a ghoulish heartbeat. While the story isn’t the strongest, this is still a rock-solid and highly entertaining sequel. A first-class ghost ride filled with atmosphere, great scares, and James Wan’s unique ability to manipulate us to get the sense of something evil lurking in every corner despite we don’t see it. All performances are solid all the way and they also really nailed the look of Maurice Grosse.


I also like how they re-created the house of the Hodgsons with the grim 1970s esthetics and the fugly posters on the girl’s bedroom walls. If the film itself was shot on film instead of digital, the film would look like it was straight from that decade alongside with The Exorcist and The Omen.


I’m not the biggest fan of the Nun character, even though she was a creepy enough presence in this film and overall has a great look. The shot of her standing in the narrow hallway in Warren’s home where their daughter Judy points at her in pure shock is a scary and eerie moment. Too bad that the two spinoffs of hers have completely desensitized her creep factor, at least for my part, so I’m not alone blaming the character. The scene where Lorraine gets attacked by her in Ed’s office room, in some very creative and suspenseful fashion that only James Wan could pull off, is the creepiest scene you’d ever get with The Nun.


Then we have The Crooked Man, where I every time have to remind myself that he isn’t CGI, but actually a guy in a costume. The actor’s name is Javier Botet and has worked a lot with Guillermo del Toro.


The Conjuring 2 was also a hUUUge success, but despite that, James Wan hasn’t directed much other than two DC films. He returned to horror with the awesome Malignant in 2021, which was very much panned and ridiculed because people expected a new Conjuring. As for now, he seems more comfortable as a producer. In 2021 we also got the third installment The Conjuring: The Alcohol Made Me Do It, most known for not being directed by Wan. The fourth one with the undertitle The Last Rites is under pre-production, which looks to be a crossover with The Nun. Can’t say that I’m too excited…


Also check out the miniseries The Enfield Haunting from 2015 if you want a considerably more faithful film adaptation of the case.


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Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan
Country & year: US, UK,  2016
Actors: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe, Frances O’Connor, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Franka Potente, Bob Adrian, Robin Atkin Downes, Bonnie Aarons, Javier Botet


Related posts: The Conjuring (2013) | Annabelle Comes Home (2019) | The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)The Curse of La Llorona (2019)



Tom Ghoul




The Conjuring (2013)

The ConjuringHas it gone ten years since the release of this modern haunted house classic already? Oh my. Ed and Lorraine Warren are more commonly known now than ever, but here’s a quick summary of this oddly fascinating and charming couple.


Ed Warren was a self taught demonologist and his wife Lorraine was a clairvoyant who could “read” the human aura. Both were hardcore Christians. After they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952, the oldest ghost hunting group in New England, they claimed to investigate over 10,000 cases of paranormal and demonic activity over the course of four decades. Most of them were debunked while some required assistance from the Catholic Church to perform exorcisms.


Lorraine was the more quiet one (for lack of a better term), whereas Ed never seemed to have a filter and would claim bizarre things such as:

I know sorcerers who have never worked a day in their life, yet they’re financially well-off. For them, everything falls into place. Life is easy; good things always come their way. They have no troubles at all. Money finds them. Why? Because they’ve made a metaphysical arrangement and work in league with the demonic.

This is a real quote from the book The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren. So it’s fair to say that our dear uncle Ed surely had some screws loose on his top floor. But I don’t doubt that he was harmless like a soft teddybear as he and Lorraine were deeply devoted to each other. Aww.


They’ve gotten several books written about them, such as The Amityville Horror, In a Dark Place (The Haunting in Connecticut), Satan’s Harvest (Maurice “Frenchie” Theriault) and The Haunted (The Smurl family). The latter was already adapted in 1991 as an obscure movie made for TV. Great books, by the way, but they work more as horror fiction than they do as “documentaries”, so keep that in mind if you’d like to read them. I was hoping one of the installments in the Conjuring franchise would be about Maurice Theriault, based on Satan’s Harvest, which we also see some glimpses of during Ed and Lorraine’s classes in the first movie. The mix of grim and tragic drama with horror would be perfect here, but since they already have already completely butchered Maurice’s character arc in the two Nun films, it’s not likely to happen. Bummer.


Ed and Lorraine WarrenEd died back in 2006 at the age of 79, while Lorraine kept fighting the good fight until she met her maker in 2019 at the age of 92. Their son-in-law Tony Spera kept their legacy alive for a while with their famous Warren Occult Museum (which is now permanently closed) and was alongside with Lorraine a consultant on the two first Conjuring films. He now runs the Official Ed and Lorraine Warren Channel where he has given some lectures on ghost hunting to show people like Zak Bagans how you really do it. He was also one of the producers of the Netflix reality series 28 Days Haunted, a complete fake amateurish nothingburger of a show yet still the most unintentionally batshit-funny thing I’ve ever seen in the ghost hunting genre.


One of their more known cases of the Warrens was with the Perron family, who lived in an ancient farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island from 1970 to 1980. The house was built in 1736 and surrounded by a big dark cloud of terrifying rumors that several suicides took place there throughout many years. The house was also haunted by an evil paranormal entity by the name Bathsheba Thayer Sherman who terrorized the family over the whole decade they lived there where Ed and Lorraine visited regularly to bless them. The mother of the family, Carilyn Perron, believed that Batsheba was jealous of her, which opened an iceberg of conspiracies, one of which that she once upon a time was an evil witch after allegedly a baby had died whom she was babysitting. The legend says that a sewing needle was found in the baby’s dead body. The only official documents we can dig up from this Bathsheba is that she lived a long life from 1812 to 1885 as a wife and mother.


The rest is based on urban legends, rumors, myths, dark morbid fairytales and totally fabricated boolshit. In other words: there’s no documents of her being an evil satanic witch that drank infant blood and threw babies in the fireplace before she cursed everyone who dared to take her land and hang herself on a tree branch outside her house three past midnight. But that’s at least what the movie and  the oldest daughter Andrea Perron want us to believe, who was a part of the promotion of the film and also has written a series of self-published books based on the whole alleged experience. And there were sure some airheads who actually believed it all. Sherman’s gravestone in Harrisville Cemetery was vandalized several times after the release of The Conjuring, and was broken to pieces in 2016. It has been fixed since. If Bathsheba had lived during the more recent decades, it’s not unlikely that some relatives would sue Warner Brothers for pure defamation.


Other “victims” of the release of the film were none other than the owners who have lived in the real conjuring house since 1987, seven years after the Perrons moved out. The big fat irony is that the couple who took over the house after the Perrons have never experienced any paranormal activity, but were instead haunted by curious trespassers on a daily basis after the release of the film. It’s not far from the same story with the owners of the Amityville house who had to remove the two distinct and iconic “eye windows” so no one would recognize the house. The no trespassers signs on the property didn’t help much either. It got to the point where they sued Warner Brothers, a case that didn’t go anywhere. After they eventually moved out, a young couple bought the house in 2019, and they knew exactly what they moved into. They launched the property into a lucrative business to allow investigations and day tours. A documentary called The Harrisville Haunting: The Real Conjuring House was made, and the place is now a landmark tourist attraction. G r o o v y.


Anyway … the movie:

After the opening with a quick introduction of Ed and Lorraine Warren and their case with the Annabelle doll, the film starts off like a classic episode of the TV-series A Haunting where the Perron family (Roger and Carolyn with their five daughters) is moving into their new house in the quiet and idyllic countryside in Harrisville, Rhode Island. It’s the summer of 1971 and everyone is so happy and excited about their new home, except for their dog Sadie, who refuses to enter the house. First red flag. After some exploring, they see that the door to the cellar is boarded. Second red flag. The cellar is creepy. Third red flag. They’re ready to spend the first night in the house and the dog still refuses to be inside. Fourth red flag. Next day, Carolyn wakes up with bruises on her leg. Fifth red flag. The toilet in the house doesn’t work. Sixth red flag. One of the kids’ bedrooms smells like someone had died there. Seventh red flag. All the clocks in the house stop ticking around three past midnight. Eighth red flag. The house is freezing. Ninth red flag. They find the dog dead outside the house. Tenth red fla…they’re fucked!


It doesn’t get more peaceful from here on and after the paranormal activities reach the breaking point when an angry, demonic, scary-looking witch (yeah, guess who) pops up from nowhere like a deranged ninja-monkey to attack the kids, it’s time to call you-know-who.


On the surface, there isn’t anything new and groundbreaking about The Conjuring, not even back in 2013, other than it’s based on Ed and Lorrie Warren, which at least gives it a unique take. As a ghost story, it’s very formulaic and James Wan with his two screenwriters doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but – most of us knew already then that Wan was a master of building up tension and creating some great, claustrophobic suspense that eventually reach the climax in full rollercoaster mode. And that’s even more than I expect from a film like this. A big plus is that he worked with the same crew from the first Insidious movie to create a haunting atmosphere only with the set-design. The whole house here looks cursed, all from the old, dusty organ in the cellar to a certain cabinet wardrobe and the walls themselves. I would love to move in by a heartbeat.


Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine is a perfect match and they take their roles pretty seriously. Their chemistry really sparks where I have no doubt that they love each other like two college teens. Joey King stands out among the six child actors and I still, ten years later, believe her when she says that “someone is behind the door”, yet I’m also still asking “what is…”. Music composer Joesph Bishara, who also played the lipstick-face demon in Insidious, is terrifying behind the Bathsheba make-up, and her introduction in the film has become a really classic moment by itself. I have some very fond memories by watching this in a packed movie theater twice as people were screaming their lungs off. Bishara’s distinct soundtrack with the mix of strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, electronic instruments and more also amps up the mood. Some clever jump-scare here as well. Clap-clap.


The Conjuring became a hUUUge financial success, both praised by the critics and audiences and sat the gold-standard for modern haunted house films. A formula that countless of directors have tried to copy but mostly failed time after time. The Neverending Amityville Franchise Inc. is always hiring directors though. Instead of rehashing sequels we got The Conjuring Universe with spin-offs like the pretty decent trilogy with the Annabelle doll and the pretty lousy Nun films which I hope we’ve seen the last of. Three years later James Wan followed-up with the sequel The Conjuring 2.


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Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes
Country & year: US, 2013
Actors: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Shannon Kook, John Brotherton, Sterling Jerins, Joseph Bishara


Related posts: The Conjuring 2 (2016) | Annabelle Comes Home (2019) | The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)The Curse of La Llorona (2019)



Tom Ghoul




The Crucifixion (2017)

Nicole is a young journalist eager to find out the truth in the case of an exorcism gone wrong in Romania, where a nun died and the priest and nuns involved were convicted for murder. She travels all the way over to Romania in order to dig deeper into the story, and after meeting with Father Anton and visiting the monastery where the exorcism took place, strange things start happening. As she finds out more and more about the nun that died, it becomes obvious to Nicole that something paranormal really did happen to that girl…and that it may even start happening to herself now.


The story in this movie is inspired by true events: the “Tanacu Exorcism” where an allegedly mentally ill nun, Maricica Irina Cornici, was killed during an exorcism in Romania in 2005. This was a case that was widely publicized in Romanian media, and after the priest and nuns were sentenced to jail, many of Tanacu’s residents still believed that Cornici had actually been possessed by a demon (including Cornici’s brother). Later, it was revealed that she had died of an overdose of adrenaline given to her in the ambulance.


Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes are the writers (known for being the writers of Conjuring 1 and 2), while the director is Xavier Gens, known for “Frontier(s)”. In other words, some very familiar names in the world of horror movies. While Xavier’s “Frontier(s)” is a violent and gory movie, “The Crucifixion” has none of this, and is a movie playing far more on the psychological level and giving it a drama/mystery tone.


Since this movie was filmed in Bucharest (Romania), there are many moments of beautiful and atmospheric scenery to behold, which is actually one of the film’s major advantages. It is unfortunate that it never manages to build more scares, and plays out more like a mystery thriller/drama, where the mystery takes a lot more place than the horror. With that being said, there is a certain amount of suspense (much helped by the Romanian scenery and buildings), and if you like a horror movie that plays out more like a crime/mystery/drama, then this might be right up your alley.


The Crucifixion


Director: Xavier Gens
Country & year: UK | Romania | USA, 2017
Actors: Sophie Cookson, Corneliu Ulici, Ada Lupu, Brittany Ashworth, Catalin Babliuc, Matthew Zajac, Iván González, Ozana Oancea, Javier Botet, Jeff Rawle, Florian Voicu


Vanja Ghoul