Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Nun?

I am not a heaven man.”

The Conjuring 2, starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor and Madison Wolfe,  follows the Warrens who travel to Enfield in England to help the Hodgson family who are being tormented by a malicious spirit.

Walking into the screen today, with creepy, opera-style music playing to set the scene, I realised I was alone. I sat in my seat in awe of getting to have this experience all by myself… then a couple walked in. Gutted. My dad always tells me about how he saw The Exorcist alone in a cinema when it first came out and I have always wanted to have a similar experience. In the end there were five of us, which wasn’t too bad especially as the rustling and chatting stopped when the film started. I don’t often enjoy the “cinema experience”. People eating smelly nachos, playing on their phones and getting up and down to go to the bathroom. If I was a less decent person I’d just download the film and watch it at home but I respect James Wan far too much to do that. And I will be buying the DVD so at least I can watch it again. On my own. In silence.

Anyway, below are my thoughts and feelings on this little gem of a film (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD):

Problem areas

  • This film was definitely made for an American audience. When the action moved to Enfield, we were treated to a London montage accompanied by ‘London Calling’ by The Clash. Personally, I think this was a bit overkill. I know James was setting the scene for what London was like in the 1970’s but, for us Brits, we’re already bashed over the head enough with everything London as most Americans seem to think that is the only city in England.
  • I wasn’t totally convinced by the London accents but only mildly.
  • The banishment of the Nun at the end seemed a bit rushed and easy. If the way to have power over a demon is to know its name, why would the Nun give its name to Lorraine so easily?
  • I hated ‘The Crooked Man’. I think he looked terrible and really CGI-ed even though James insists he is played by a real person. I don’t think it added anything to the film and hope he doesn’t get his own spin-off.
  • A small thing but Ed says “bloody hell”. A very British remark and not one I think an American has ever uttered.
  • The Hodgson children decorate a Christmas tree, which was already up and decorated in a previous scene.
  • There is a violent incident in the kitchen which affects Janet’s brother Johnny. Afterwards, Janet is comforted by her mam and Johnny is nowhere to be seen. Where is he? Poor lad.

Best bits

  • Madison Wolfe, who plays Janet, is brilliant in this. For such a young actress her portrayal of fear is incredibly realistic. In one scene she is under the bed covers and I genuinely felt terrified for her as she shook, grasping her torch, tears running down her face.
  • Bill Wilkins, the spirit haunting the family, has a really creepy voice and presence.
  • The relationships in this film: the Hodgson family, the Warrens’ marriage, the friendly next door neighbours were utterly believable and heart-warming. I honestly teared up a couple of times especially when Billy offers his mam some biscuits and Ed sings to the Hodgson family. You even end up feeling sorry for Bill’s spirit. Horror is most effective when it has heart. And this film has oodles.
  • The camera work is brilliant. James knows what he’s doing with horror and he does it well. There are some awesome camera angles with darkness oozing from every pore.
  • The scenes with Vera and Patrick are the best. The acting is great by everyone throughout but these two really represent the heart of the film and you root for them every step of the way. Any film with these actors is top notch, horror or not.
  • Both Bill and the Nun have yellow eyes. If you were paying attention you’d figure that yellow is not the colour for all demons’ eyes but that these spirits are one and the same. Especially when you consider that Bill was blind when alive so why can he see as a spirit?
  • The credits were very well done, especially for including the original recording of Janet’s interview.

Coincidences?

I noticed a few nods to other horrors, whether they were intentional or not:

  • The Warrens’ daughter, Judy was only in one scene and was wearing an outfit very reminiscent to Chucky’s in all Child’s Play films.
  • The Nun standing at the end of a long hall reminded me of the twins in The Shining.
  • Johnny’s tent is similar to Cole’s in The Sixth Sense which also houses creepy spirits.
  • The sisters’ messed up bedroom looks just like Carol Anne’s in Poltergeist once the spirit has unleashed its rage. Also there is a tree directly outside the bedroom window.
  • The song ‘This Old Man (Knick-knack Paddy-whack”) is sang menacingly by Bill. It is also whistled and played by the serial killer in Nightwatch (the one with Ewan McGregor) so is always a sign to run far, far away; this song really gives me the creeps.
  • ‘The Crooked Man’ zoetrope is reminiscent of the human-sized version used as a torture device in House on Haunted Hill (remake).

Questions

  • I am not sure why the Nun was included. I read that James actually went back into production to add her. Was this simply to have another spin off aka Annabelle? The Nun first appears at the beginning of the film when the Warrens are investigating the Amityville case. Why is she there? Where is James going with this?
  • Has Ed’s sight been irrevocably damaged? Or is he okay now?
  • Was Bill’s spirit freed when the Nun was defeated?

Overall, I loved the film (it made me jump three times, which is rare for me). It may even be better than the first one. I have thought about it all day and that can only be a good thing. Do I believe the real story behind this? I don’t know but one thing is for sure, this is one hell of a story. Congratulations again James Wan. Let’s just hope I can get to sleep tonight…

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