Horror Director James Wan has gone on record saying he hopes his films have brought respectability back to the studio horror flick and his latest, The Conjuring 2, is exactly that. It's respectable.
What makes Wan's films stand out from the average horror flick is his emphasis on story and character, and thus far his 'Conjuring' films have been no exception. Wan puts real talent in from of the lens and lets his audience spend time with them early on before the house begins to creak. From there he slowly dials up the dread to eleven, like a disembodied spirit playing with the radio.
That mounting tension is another signature of Wan's films and a huge reason why the first film was so successful. The hellish happenings worsened through to the pants-browning climax. This sequel falls just short in that regard. Rather than a spiraling out of control, the horror flattens out towards the midsection and the dread seems to fall off for a while before eventually building back up again. That's the biggest problem with this film.
Thankfully, atmosphere and the many wonderful performances carry the story well enough through the bloated sections. Special note to the franchise's centerpiece duo: Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. The two have wonderful chemistry on screen and shine brighter than ever in this film as Ed and Lorraine Warren's relationship is more thoroughly studied. At its heart, The Conjuring 2 is a romance with a horror backdrop.
The Conjuring 2 is worth your time.