The sequel to the scariest movie of 2013 covers a lot of the same ground—but it wets a lot of the same pants, too, if you know what I mean. Director James Wan and writers Chad and Carey W. Hayes deliver another smooth, confident, meat-and-potatoes horror film based on the files of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played with surprising tenderness by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. It's 1977, and an impoverished north London family—divorced Peggy (Frances O'Connor) and her four children—are bedeviled by a malevolent spirit that tears apart their dingy house and possesses 11-year-old Janet (Madison Wolfe). Since we know up front what kind of movie this is, Wan skips the “maybe there’s another explanation” formalities and gets right to scaring us with unambiguously supernatural events. An expert with the camera, he makes frightening use of the story’s familiar haunted-house tropes, and even finds room for a few nice family moments. Not that the movie world needs more franchises, but the thought of the Warrens’ case files bursting with creepy stories for James Wan to adapt indefinitely is very appealing.
Director: James Wan
Producer: Peter Safran, Rob Cowan, James Wan, Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter and Steven Mnuchin
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Frances O'Connor, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Franka Potente, Bob Adrian, David Thewlis and Bonnie Aarons