The Conjuring 2: Spoilery Thoughts

I already wrote a review of The Conjuring 2, but I have some questions that would spoil the movie, so I opted to put them in a different post.  Because I am a kind soul.

conjuring 2 - valak

1. Lorraine was able to defeat the demon – Valak – by saying his name, screaming other things and condemning him back to hell.  Or something.  She only knew his name because Valak told her his name in a vision.  “I know his name, I know his name, GIVE ME MY BIBLE WHERE I CARVED HIS NAME,” she screamed.
So…why did Valak tell her his name?  They had no leads on the demon.  The only way they could have defeated him was by knowing his name, and he told Lorraine his name.  This wasn’t a case of finding out the name then needing to travel to some distant location to find more information and using it against him.  This was none of that.  This was a case of, “I say his name and he disappears.”  Valak had one weakness: that someone – anyone – speak his name.  And he handed them that weapon for no reason whatsoever.
I don’t understand why and I need someone to explain it to me.

2. Why did Janet float like Jean Grey when she was possessed at the end?

3. Why does Ed Warren have such a lovely singing voice?

conjuring 2 - ed with guitar

4 .Why do the Warrens have a teenage daughter they leave at home when they go on their missions?  Doesn’t leaving a teenager alone in a house with haunted items in the basement for weeks at a time seem like a recipe for disaster?

"There are frozen dinners in the microwave & don't worry about the whispers in the basement."
“There are frozen dinners in the microwave & don’t worry about the whispers in the basement.”

5. The idea of Valak using other creepy things as a way to throw everyone off was pretty crafty.  Who cares about looking for Valak if everyone is concerned about Bill Wilkins and The Crooked Man?  That’s a nice bit of misdirection there, Valak.  Good for you.

conjuring 2 - crooked man

The Conjuring 2: Movie Review

conjuring 2 - poster

Based on the Enfield Poltergeist case, one of the more famous hauntings in British history.  An adorable little British family is being haunted by a demon, and one of them is possessed.  Whatever are they to do?  Good thing the Warrens are on the case!

“The power of ED WARREN compels you!”

I’ll admit to being hesitant about this movie.  I enjoyed the first one a decent amount, but the trailers for this movie looked terrible.  I actually laughed out loud at a couple of points, although maybe that says more about me than the trailer.  “A room full of upside crosses?  HILARIOUS!”  I am not well.

"The little girl is terrified!  Stop! Stop! My sides!"
“The little girl is terrified! Stop! Stop! My sides!”

To my surprise, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.  Well…I enjoyed about 60% of it.  The story with the Hodgson family was terrific.  The characters were well-drawn and easy to love – the little British boy offering his mom biscuits to help her through a stressful time melted my cold, dead heart – and the haunting/possession stuff was scary.  I cared about that family.  I didn’t like that Janet – sweet Janet – was being possessed by an old man.  You leave Janet alone, Mr. Wilkins.

conjuring 2 - janet possessed
That stuff was great.  The other 40% was filled with the Warrens.  You want me to say it?  Fine, I’ll say it.  It was too much of the Warrens.  And it wasn’t just about the Warrens in general: it was about how great they are.  How true their intentions are.  That Ed, isn’t he great?  He’s the best.  Look at him sing an entire Elvis song to these fatherless children.  Look how handsome and caring he is.  Look at him fix up that house.  “Lemme roll up my sleeves and fix everything in your house while getting rid of a demon.  Save your money: my payment is in a job well done and a demon-free house.”
At one point he says, “There have been cases we’ve turned down; there has never been a family we have refused to help.”  What a guy!  I’m surprised the movie didn’t end with him adopting all of the homeless children in the city.  “Come live with me!  I’ll cook breakfast for you every day in a suit!”

"I see the problem. Your husband left you. Ha! Seriously though, your pipes are all messed up."
“I see the problem. Your husband left you. Ha! Seriously though, your pipes are all messed up.”

I know why they did this: they’re working on a franchise here, and the thing that links all the movies together is the Warrens.  It’s not a bad concept, as every movie gets a totally different case with a totally different family.  So they need us to like and root for the Warrens.  But we don’t need them to be this much in the foreground.

"Ohhhh.  Myyyyyy looooove..."
“Ohhhh. Myyyyyy looooove…”

There were two plots in this movie: we had the Enfield case, but we also had Lorraine seeing a vision of Ed’s death and being scared by it.  So we get a creepy scene of Janet talking to a shadow, then we get Lorraine saying, “I don’t think we should go, Ed.  It’s too dangerous.”  For, like, 20 minutes.  They basically took two movies and smashed them together.  Whenever they showed the family, I loved it.  Whenever they focused on the Warrens, my interest began to wane.

The sweater didn't help anything.
The sweater didn’t help anything.

This movie was two hours and 14 minutes long.  Even then, they had to rush through the third act just to bring the story to its conclusion.  The leaps in logic that took place over the last 15 minutes were astounding.  Lorraine was spouting exposition like a crazy person.  “The demon is this and this and this is how we know this and that and this and DEMONS AND VISIONS.”  They could have cut out 45 minutes of the Warrens and built in some of that exposition naturally, instead of having it shouted at us from the back of a station wagon (I think the license plate on the station wagon was INFODMP).  Or keep it, cut out 45 minutes of the Warrens and have the movie clock in at 90 minutes.  Either one of those options would have been fine.

conjuring 2 - familyWhen I liked this movie, I really liked it.  But there was too much “look how great the Warrens are, I certainly hope Ed doesn’t die,” that really killed the momentum for my liking.  I still recommend watching it, but be prepared to be tossed between two completely different stories for large portions of the movie.

Rating: 3.5/5

conjuring 2 - nunSPOILER ALERT
For most of the movie, Lorraine is terrified of Ed dying.  It’s the drama driving their story.  Meanwhile, if you know anything about the Warrens you know that Ed lived to be 79 years old and died surrounded by his family.  He certainly wasn’t impaled on a tree in Enfield.

Mailbag: June 6, 2016

Welcome back to the HW Mailbag.  Only one question this week, but it’s a good one.

Current debate that’s going on at work…What’s scarier, ghosts/paranormal or slashers/killers and why?  Your thoughts? – @kcguru23

@kcguru23 works at a hotel and they have these debates during slow moments.  I wouldn’t mind working in a place like that.  Instead, I’ll just sit alone in my office, telling ghost stories to myself.  As it turns out, my scenario is still more interesting than The Innkeepers.

This question comes down to personal preference/beliefs.  I consider myself a believer in the paranormal, with a healthy helping of skepticism.  That is to say that I believe in ghosts, but, I don’t think they’re as prevalent as the wide array of ghost hunting shows would have us believe.

I also believe that there are malevolent spirits.  I’ve heard enough stories from people who have visited Waverly Hills Sanatorium if nothing else.

Still, ghosts/paranormal movies have never really scared me.  Those kinds of movies can be creepy, but they never really stick with me.  Recent installments in this genre seem more intent on hitting the viewer with jump scares more than anything else.  If there’s anything that screams “fleeting scares” more than movies crawling with jump scares, I don’t know about it.  There is such a thing as a well-done jump scare (the sheet flying off the clothesline in The Conjuring is a recent example), but far too many of them just seem cheap and lazy.

That’s not to say that all paranormal movies are bad, I just tend not to find them very frightening.

So, for this debate, I’ll side with slashers/killers.  I grant you that most things I just said about paranormal movies tend to hold true for slashers: they’re not very scary and like to rely on jump scares.  More recent movies like the “fake jump scare” jump scare, which I’m not a big fan of.

I’m siding with this because well-done movies about killers tend to get under my skin.  When I think of some of the most unnverving movies I’ve ever seen – the ones that really grabbed hold of me and left me looking over my shoulder for weeks – I think of movies about serial killers.  The Poughkeepsie Tapes.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  Even Zodiac to some degree, and that wasn’t even really that scary.

It’s something real.  Something I feel could actually happen to me.  I don’t necessarily expect a killer will be hiding in my garage, but I could always be wrong.  On the other side, I’ve been living in the same house for almost 10 years and have witnessed exactly zero paranormal events.  No violent deaths have occurred here, and it’s not built on an old burial ground.  I have no fear of ghosts in my day-to-day life.  But killers could be anywhere, man.  Just waiting to strike.  Maybe one of them has been living in my attic for a couple months, just hanging out until the time is right.  I’ll never know until it’s too late, which is why I have various weapons stashed in random places in my house.  YOU HEAR THAT KILLER IN THE ATTIC?  I have weapons that you don’t know about, and they’re EVERYWHERE.  I may not have much training, but I can swing wildly with the best of them.  Find another filthy attic to call your home.

The concept of the home invasion subgenre scares me, but I’ve yet to come across one that has really stuck with me.  The first 45 minutes of The Strangers was pretty cool, but it all just kind of fell apart.  I recently watched Hush – which I really liked – but it didn’t really affect me.  The idea that someone could randomly break into my house and torture/kill me is terrifying, but I’ve yet to see a movie that has really been able to harness that terror.

A quick story about serial killer movies.
As we all know, Zodiac was based on a true story.  The Zodiac Killer was an actual killer who was never caught.  Still, the murders took place in California in the late 60s.  After watching Zodiac – again, not really a scary movie – I checked my garage to make sure he wasn’t hiding out in there.
To repeat: I checked my garage to see if The Zodiac Killer – a man who, if still alive, would likely be well into his seventies – was hiding in there.  I live in Kentucky and have a very loud garage door.  There is no reason he would be in there, but I just had to check.

A view from my garage

In closing, I’ll roll with slashers/killers over ghosts/paranormal, and it’s not particularly close.

Have something on your mind?  Send us your questions!  Hit us up on Twitter or through email.

31 Days of Horror Day 16: The Conjuring

Conjuring - Poster

I almost gave up on this movie within the first 10 minutes.  You remember those 10 minutes, don’t you?  It was the Warrens recapping a case they had involving a possessed doll.  The people were able to tell it was possessed even though it totally looked like a normal doll.  Not even a little bit evil.  The keen eye on these people, man.

"Everything's cool, man. I'm not evil."
“Everything’s cool, man. Totally not evil.”

I get it, James Wan.  Dolls and old people scare you.  They scare you a lot.  However, putting a creepy looking doll on screen and having its head move a little bit isn’t overly impressive.  There’s no trick to doing something like that.  No originality.  At this point, I’ve gotten so sick of creepy dolls that I don’t even get scared by them anymore.  Same goes for clowns.  It’s all overblown.  If you want to try to scare me, put some effort into it.

Getting warmer.
Getting warmer…

After that first 10 minutes they settled into the main story, and I really liked it.  A few of the good scares were ruined for me (stupid trailers), but there were still a handful of other moments that made me jump.  And not the kind of jump where I was mad at myself for falling for a cheap gag, either: real, legitimate jumps that made me gives James Wan an imaginary fist-bump (but not literally, of course.  That would be crazy.  I’m not crazy.  You’re the one that’s crazy).  This is a well done movie with a lot to love about it.

Including the hair. Look at the hair. LOOK AT IT!
Including the hair. Look at the hair. LOOK AT IT!

There are still some flaws throughout the movie (including some scary old people that Wan threw in there “just because”), but it’s pretty creepy throughout.  It’s another cold, rainy day outside.  Open the windows, make yourself some hot cider, wrap a blanket around yourself and throw this on.

Added note: I thought this was much better than Insidious.  It’s not even close, really.