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The Conjuring 2 (Blu-ray Review)

Conjuring-2Three years ago, James Wan took the summer by surprise and by storm with his horror opus, The Conjuring.  A period supernatural horror piece that followed up his highly popular and profitable Insidious.  It followed real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren on one of their documented cases.  A sequel was certain, but while there was a wait, a spinoff film, Annabelle was released and was a hit at the box office in its own right.  However, nobody liked that one.  So it was with great wonder if the Conjuring brand had already lost its steam before the real deal second one had come out.  The answer was a resounding “no” as The Conjuring 2 was a big hit and its box office didn’t match its predecessor, but lived up to it well enough.  We are now going to be getting a third one as well as another Annabelle and another spin off in The Nun (based off the character from this one).  Well, Universal…looks like someone may have beat you to that horror-centric monster movie shared universe…and did so true to the genre.  Warner Bros is bringing its hit to Blu-ray on September 13th with some extras and a digital copy.  Word has it a 4K UHD release was planned but scrapped (No official announcement came though).  

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Film 

The supernatural thriller brings to the screen another real case from the files of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.  In one of their most terrifying paranormal investigations, Ed and Lorraine travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.

Three years ago, The Conjuring rocked the box office in the summer of 2013.  It scored big time for a horror film.  It was only one of two big horror openings for director James Wan in just the span of a couple months.  Other said opening was the sequel to Insidious, his other haunted ghost story series.  While I was a much bigger fan of Insidious over The Conjuring, I still enjoyed and respected the hell out of the first Conjuring.  Ed and Lorraine Warren are fascinating people, and I was happy to see them get another adventure of a fictionalized account of one of their historical cases.

This second one definitely dwells in newer territory, as the first film felt kind of like we’d seen it before.  One adversarial difference to this sequel, is they brought it a heavier dose of skepticism on the case.  And in real life there was a ton of it at the time as well.  But, I think it was great to bring in that bigger challenge for Ed, Lorraine and the family of victims in the haunt.  Ed and Lorraine did gain fame and notoriety, mostly from the Amityville case, and at the time were under a microscope with their work and actions.  And this movie really provides a good look into that struggle.

Its also a bit of a relationship struggle for them as well.  Lorraine struggles with a vision she has of Ed’s demise, while Ed is never made aware and is willing to put himself in harms way for the glory of his work.  However, what Wan does exceptionally, is make this subplot very important and emotional, but never takes his eye off the ball which is the family being haunted.  We get a healthy, well balanced and blended mixture of both stories and characters and it makes the whole thing a richer affair.  And when they all come together we get great moments, like the Patrick Wilson rendition of “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. Which is, in a weird turn, both goofy and tender all at the same time.

Now, the film takes a turn in its third act that gets a bit too hokey, convenient and goes incredibly big.  Its a sequel competing with the previous film, so it has to go bigger and different.  Here is a hair too epic and almost too much for some of the performers to handle.  It can be a bit much and some of it comes around as ridiculous.  You can either go with it, or not.  For me personally, the first 3/4 of the film had earn the right to do whatever, and I could find some fun in how it all played out.  No bother here.  But, if you’re one that didn’t like it and it turned you off; well, I can’t say you’re wrong either.

With the first Conjuring, I (and many others into craft) felt Wan really directed the hell out of that movie, and had he not touched it, it probably wouldn’t have been near as good.  Once gain, the man is out to top himself and kinda does.  The camera is its own character in this film, and is doing some exceptional work.  There are a lot of long takes, following through and delivering into horror or just down right incredible shots.  The Conjuring 2 was filmed majority of it on a soundstage and Wan plays that to his advantage and absolutely makes the right call on it.  The sets are tremendous and built right into the camera work he wants to accomplish.  This one has a lot of rewatch value just on the basis of direction and camerawork alone (Set design isn’t too shabby either).

The Conjuring 2 proves that as a film series it can work well and differentiate itself plenty from the other offerings.  Heck, its actually a cinematic shared universe with that of Annabelle and the upcoming The Nun based off the frightful figured in this one.  What James Wan manages to excel at in these first two film is giving us its connective tissue and arcs with Ed and Lorraine Warren, but never forgetting about the subjects of their investigation getting spotlight time and their own arcs as well.  There are many ways in which I enjoyed this second Conjuring visit more than the first, but overall I think its maybe a draw between the two, which is actually a pretty big win when it comes to horror sequels.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Conjuring 2 has a nice overall rich look to it.  Plenty of detail clearly comes through, especially when check out the textures, patterns and damages in the Hodgson household.  The image is crisp and sharp enough while having a nice slight glow to it.  While the original film gave a very fall-like vibe to it, this one definitely feels of winter.

Depth:  Some really awesome depth in the image that compliments the great camera work going on with the film.  Motion is cinematic and very smooth.  Foreground and background keep to themselves with great spacing and distancing.

Black Levels:  Blacks are a real awesome player in this transfer.  They are deep, inky and help to shade and define the images, people, objects and places.  Things get eerily dark and come across with that great touch.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are colder, but browns and rustic colors feel of a bold touch.  Everything from clothes and such do feel era-accurate and natural in its appearance.

Flesh Tones:  Skin is on the colder side with a consistent look throughout the scenes in the film.  Freckles, wrinkles, stubble, make-up, rosy red cheeks and other facial details look good from any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Nope.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 5.1 Descriptive Audio Service, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dynamics:  For this review, the defaulted 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track was displayed.  It sounds absolutely haunting and terrific.  It delivers the scares and scatters the volumes for all the right times and purposes.  Foley, especially the creeks and cracks in the house, sounds marvelous and well layered here.

Low Frequency Extension:  Plenty of rumbling from the sub, taking enhanced voices, crashing, beds rumbling and just all out horror sounds.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is a fun track tha 

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp and clean.  Patrick Wilson’s singing sounds wonderful in this 7.1 mix.

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Extras 

The Conjuring 2 comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Crafting The Conjuring 2 (HD, 10:09) – A behind the scenes look on the film featuring interviews with the cast and crew. Goes through the story a little bit, a return to The Conjuring’s world as well as focusing on the incredible sets and camera work in the film.

The Enfield Poltergeist: Living The Horror (HD, 12:46) – The girls this story is based on, as well as Lorraine Warren and the writers (and some other on production) talk about the true story that happened. It also features footage of Lorraine’s reunion with the girls.

Creating Crooked (HD, 6:44) – This focuses on the crooked man in the film and how they conceived and brought him to life.  There is behind the scenes footage of the actor playing him as well as the effects house putting it all together.

The Conjuring 2: Hollywood’s Haunted Stage (HD, 5:08) – A group of paranormal hunters investigate one of the lots near where The Conjuring 2 was shot and check it out for any ghosts or such.

The Sounds Of Scary (HD, 7:00) – A piece on the score for the film.  Features the composer discussing and footage of the recording sessions and band playing.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:31) 

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Summary 

The Conjuring 2 is a worthy successor to the original and another good exercise in period horror.  In a weird way, this would up being one of my favorite films of the summer when I look back.  And that’s probably a statement on how weak Summer 2016 was, but good for the second Conjuring.  Warner Bros delivers a very solid Blu-ray featuring some nifty extras, somewhat more interesting than safe, but not too many to overload someone.  The picture quality on this is also terrific along with some great surround sound to jolt some in their seat.  Have at this picking it up.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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