A horror movie is always better when there is a “true story” component. The Amityville house has inspired books, movies, and documentaries both about the tragic murders that took place, as well as the paranormal investigations that followed. No one gained more positive notoriety from the house than Ed and Lorraine Warren. In the 1970’s they were the best known paranormal investigators in the world, traveling all over the country (and sometimes beyond) to supposedly haunted locations and then writing and lecturing about their findings and experiences. Although they have been widely criticized for their techniques and for exploitation they are still considered to be authorities on poltergeists and the paranormal. So it’s no wonder they have made it into at least a half a dozen horror films and have inspired several more characters. (I’ll put the short list at the bottom.)
The first installment of The Conjuring didn’t involve the Amityville house at all; instead it focused on the haunting of the Perron family. It is a bold move these days to go with a lesser known event, but I’m sure that the filmmakers were aware that the Amityville story has been done to death. (It does, however, make a cameo of sorts in the sequel.)
The Conjuring 2 is another film featuring the Warrens (played by Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) and their investigation of the infamous Enfield Haunting in the north of London. I was already familiar with this case going into the film (and there is some debate over how much of a role they played in this investigation in particular), but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it. The jump scares were a bit predictable, but the special effects were great; they were a solid blend of CGI and practical that really brought the haunting to life…well, you know what I mean. The acting was good, especially from the child leads, and they nailed the set design. (Stick around through the credits to see a side by side comparison of film and reality.) James Wan has done quite a good job with this one, not the scariest movie I’ve seen this year, but it was a fun ride through a controversial bit of haunting history.
It’s also a standalone film; seeing the first one is not necessary to enjoy it. There are plenty of tidbits and allusions to the first film, but if you haven’t seen it yet you don’t have to worry about spoilers when you see the sequel. If you like a character driven ghost story and enjoy the fact versus fiction aspect of a “based on true events” movie,The Conjuring 2 is right up your alley.
Films featuring the likeness of or inspired by Ed and Lorraine Warren:
The Amityville Horror, Annabelle, The Conjuring, A Haunting in Connecticut, The Haunted, Poltergeist
You can own The Conjuring 2 on Digital HD August 30th and Blu-ray on September 13th.