*** out of four
Like its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 is familiar demon possession horror stuff, but it is well-made and delivers the scares. Again, this is “based on a true story” i.e. a hoax. This time, a single mother (Frances O'Connor) and her four children in north London are terrorized by an evil spirit in their home. To the rescue are American paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson).
The picture is directed by James Wan and, while I don't much care for Saw or Insidious, I have to admit that he knows how to construct scenes of terror and dread as well as effective jump scares. Look, that demonic Marilyn Manson nun is total nightmare fuel...and when it jumps out of the shadows – good Lord! However, at a running time of 133 minutes, Conjuring 2 could have been tightened a bit. There are just too many jump scare set pieces, so one of two of those could have been snipped out without any loss to the story.
Helping immeasurably to gloss over a silly central mystery are the lead performances by Farmiga and Wilson. They work well together and are likable characters even if the real-life Warrens were frauds.
Like I said, Conjuring 2 does nothing to reinvent the genre, but it's a chilling, well-told ghost story.