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Movie Review

'The Conjuring 2' is Both Old-Fashioned and Modern

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The Conjuring 2 claims to be based on "one of the most documented cases in paranormal history," but credits its story to three of its four screenplay writers, one of whom is also its director.

I don't know that that matters much, but the movie will convince you that paranormal creatures, whether they really exist or not, see an awful lot of horror movies. Fortunately, they seem to favor the old-fashioned ones that featured shudders rather than upset stomachs; there is very little of modern blood and gore and lovingly prolonged agony, which is the more remarkable because the writer-director is James Wan, one of those responsible for the recent Saw movies, which I have seen all I can stand of while waiting for better things on television.

And The Conjuring 2 relies on good old-fashioned creaking doors and blowing curtains and strange bumpy sounds upstairs and in the next room, to the extent that I'm not at all sure that all the shadowy figures I saw in the backgrounds and the subtly shifting movements in the trees were really there: sometimes something came of them and sometimes nothing did, and I think my imagination was aroused enough to produce a good many of them on its own. There were unmistakable tricks with mirrors that reflected old vampire movies, and hints of more modern psychological themes and even suggestions of police procedurals as the paranormal investigators set up their electronics equipment and twirled their dials and studied the results, and at one point I was convinced that this was going to turn out to be just another poltergeist movie, but at other times it seems to be satirizing the ghost hunting profession.

And I'll say no more about all that and nothing about how it all turns out, if it turns out at all. And if it doesn't, I'm sure that was what was intended.