‘There was a crooked man. He walks a crooked mile…’
Chekov’s Gun is the principle that if you introduce a loaded gun in the first act, then it must be fired in the third. Horror director James Wan seems to be suffering from Chekov’s Toy. When an electronic toy fire engine is whooping along in the hands of a young child at the start of The Conjuring 2, it is grimly predictable when it reappears in the dead of night making more noise than an actual fire engine.
The problem with this sequel to The Conjuring (if I can narrow it down to just one) is that it it’s too daft to be scary but too serious to be tongue in cheek. The result is a boring, disjointed film that limps along on jump scares alone. James Wan has become the most successful horror director in Hollywood on the back of Insidious, The Conjuring and their various patchy sequels. There is no denying that Wan is imaginative in terms of lighting and mood but how many times do we have to see the same rotating cast of ghosts before it becomes old hat. Here, we have a possessed child, the spectre of a grumpy old bastard and an evil nun wandering around and yet none of it feels even remotely fresh.
The move of location to England adds very little to the story other than the fact that it is based on the real life Enfield hauntings. The acting is forgettable and corny but then it must be difficult to conjure a decent performance when the dialogue is so contrived and predictable. Even the plot is indistinguishable from the majority of ghost stories doing the rounds at the moment. You would think that with all the scope of the underworld at your fingertips, you would be able to produce a better basic premise than **SPOILER** demon disguises a possession as the work of a poltergeist.
The Conjuring 2 is so full of predictable set ups, characters and plot lines that even the jump scares are telegraphed. And to make a film of this standard over two hours long is not just negligent, it is arrogant. Yet, in the pipeline, we have Insidious: Chapter 4, Annabelle 2 and The Nun (a spin off from this film). Scary.