James Wan does it again.
The Conjuring 2 manages to be just as scary as the first, and even if you don’t believe the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the film manages to deliver just as many tasteful scares as it’s predecessor. There are terrifying ghosts and demonic imagery that repeat on a terrifying reel in your mind long after the credits have rolled.
Like Gracie stated in her previous blog post about our season 2 premiere (with the first installment of The Conjuring), the film shows us the unshakable bond of love between Ed and Lorraine, who are sent to England to help a single housewife, Peggy Hodgeson (Francis O’Connor) and her children overcome the malevolent spirits plaguing their home and one of the children in particular, Janet (Madison Wolfe). The film paints us a portrait of what their life is like- they are poor and their spirits have been broken by the split of Peggy and her husband, living in a cramped house and surviving on bare minimum- the perfect dysfunctional setting for a haunting that shakes them to their core.
What I love about this film, or the franchise in general, is that it focuses on the strength within the female characters. Like the first Conjuring film, this one deals with adolescent girls, their mother and the ghosts that wreak havoc on their lives. Not to mention the badassery of Lorraine, who does everything she can to help them. While the cases themselves are incredibly different -along with the real-life, first hand accounts of Ed and Lorraine- there is an undeniable theme that James Wan sticks to in both films- the villains and the heroes are…. Female. Bathsheba and Valak, both malevolent, possessive (pun intended) and deadly are counterbalanced by Lorraine, Carolyn and Peggy. And I love that this is showcased in such a tasteful and empowering way, even if it was unintentional by Wan.
It delves deep into the balance between good and evil in the female form and gives us room to play around with interpretation about what “girl power” means. It shows us that we can triumph over evil if we want to, but we can also run amok and haunt the hell out of someone’s life. It also shows how tumultuous life can be for a young girl. One minute you’re worrying about the growing pains of puberty, wondering if you’ll ever see your father again, and the next minute you’re being possessed by a creepy old guy who used to live in your house. It’s never easy- especially when you’re trying to communicate with those around you and you aren’t being heard. I’m talking about poor little Janet, who deals with the worst of the haunting. Lorraine takes the time to get to know Janet and listens to what she has to say (Bechdel test = passed). In the end, Lorraine is again the one who is standing up to demons and telling them to eff off. Ever protective and motherly, she’s a role model for us all. On the other hand, there’s Valak- the main demon who wants nothing more than to destroy the Hodgeson’s earthly peace and tranquility. Stuck in the middle of it all is Janet- who teeters between light and dark, but comes out the winner.
The Conjuring 2 takes the idea that in many possession films, men do the rescuing- and turns it on it’s head. Lorraine is always stepping up to the plate and facing her fears in order to save the souls of the anyone in these predicaments. In films like The Exorcist, The Rite, The Vatican Tapes, Deliver Us From Evil and many others that follow in their stead, exorcisms are often performed by a male. Lorraine swoops in and completely steals the show. The Conjuring 2, along with The Conjuring, shows us that we can’t let men have all the fun when it comes to exorcising those demons.
- Abbey Brown