Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Norma Bates Battles 70’s Retro CGI Demons, or Thoughts on The Conjuring 2

After a brief reboot of the Amityville Horror, Ed and Lorraine Warren, your favorite demonologists, encounter another family in supernatural jeopardy, this time in North London in The Conjuring 2 (2016).  There’s a brief montage with London Calling by The Clash to establish time and place, but the album was released in 1979, and the story takes place two years earlier in 1977.   It’s little details like this that take me out of the narrative and make or break the movie, but I have followed director James Wan’s career with interest ever since Saw (2004) and am (mostly) willing to let it pass.
Vera Farmiga, who is doing such a fantastic job as Norma Bates in Bates Motel, returns as Lorraine Warren and ascends to central focus and star of the movie.  She gets the visions, fights the demons and moves the plot along, while Patrick Wilson is relegated to TV interviews and painting creepy portraits of satanic nuns.
I’m not a big fan of putting children in danger for entertainment, but it’s part of the formula for this franchise, and no self-respecting demons have anything better to do other than pick on single-mother families where the sisters make their own Ouija boards.  The film is genuinely eerie and downright terrifying at times, ghostly apparitions, lots of bumps in the night, haunted toys, slamming doors and shaking beds.  There’s not much screen time wasted on convincing the doubters, and there’s an especially emotionally satisfying scene where the London coppers witness thumps in the walls and moving chairs and admit they have no explanation and can offer no help.  The evil nun is as frightening as any J-horror ghost; with subtle CGI that uses the medium’s otherworldy and uncanny-valley aspects to great advantage.
With Franka Potente, from American Horror Story: Asylum and Run Lola Run (1998) as another parapsychologist, Maria Doyle Kennedy, who you know as Mrs. S from Orphan Black & Vera Bates from Downton Abbey as the kindly neighbor-lady, and Javier Botet from the Rec (2007) Trilogy and Mama (2013) as The Crooked Man.  Child actor Madison Wolfe gives an impressive performance as young Janet Hodgson, the possessed girl.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.