This summer, the smash of The Conjuring crowned him king. Based on a "true" case file of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (if you believe bunk to be true), the film begins with perhaps the most frightening doll in cinema history — or at least since Poltergeist — and things just grow creepier from there.
In the early 1970s, the Perron family moves into a farmhouse that's haunted, and the ghostly goings-on so freak out the couple and their five daughters that they have no choice but to call upon the Warrens, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (TV's Bates Motel).
There's nothing particularly special — and certainly nothing original — in that setup. Remove the names and it sounds eerily like your average Haunting in Connecticut. What makes The Conjuring such a standout is simple: It's scary. And the now-famous hand-clap scene is merely one shock.
The Conjuring makes for a better companion to Wan's Insidious than Wan's Insidious: Chapter 2. Released to theaters a mere two months after The Conjuring scared up big business, I:C2 utilizes many of the original's elements, if not all of them, including Wan's Saw co-creator Leigh Whannell as scripter and onscreen ghostbuster.
Once more, the family headed by Wilson and Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class) can't seem to shake the malevolent spirits that plague their daily lives. While Wan again relies on crafty in-camera tricks rather than digital ones, something about the recipe feels less urgent. I:C2 deserves praise for not just repeating the formula, although it does revisit it — in a meta method that will pay off more if the first film remains fresh of mind. — Rod Lott
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