The Conjuring 2 (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 28-Sep-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror / Thriller Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Crafting The Conjuring 2
Featurette-The Enfield Poltergeist: Living the Horror
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Creating Crooked
Featurette-The Conjuring 2: Hollywood's Haunted Stage
Featurette-The Sounds of Scary
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 133:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Wan
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Patrick Wilson
Vera Farmiga
Madison Wolfe
Frances O'Connor
Lauren Esposito
Benjamin Haigh
Patrick McAuley
Simon McBurney
Maria Doyle Kennedy
Simon Delaney
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Joseph Bishara


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Danish
Finnish
Russian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

††† After his ill-advised detour into blockbuster action with 2015ís farcically cartoonish Furious 7, filmmaker James Wan returns to his usual stomping ground for The Conjuring 2, demonstrating yet again that his deft touch with contemporary horror is close to unparalleled. The follow-up to Wanís 2013 hit The Conjuring, which was one of the best horrors in some time, here we have another intricately-produced scary movie which is just as interested in character development as it is in concocting scares. Even though itís perhaps a bit too overblown for its own good (it does clock in at a hefty 130 minutes), The Conjuring 2 succeeds where it counts: itís a frightening, engaging horror backed by top-flight production values. And considering the usual standard for horror sequels, the mere fact that this follow-up isnít awful is a big deal.

††† Just as the first film was based on a (supposedly) real-life case, The Conjuring 2 sets its sights on the more well-known Enfield Poltergeist haunting in London, which has already been the subject of documentaries and dramatisations. In London, pre-teen girl Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe) is being terrorised by the spirit of elderly man Bill Wilkins (Bob Adrian), who died in the council house some years ago and declares ownership from beyond the grave. The haunting terrifies the family, leaving single mother Peggy (Frances OíConnor) and her four children desperately seeking help. Meanwhile, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) opt to take a sabbatical from their work after Lorraine is plagued by visions of a malevolent demon nun, and of Edís violent death. However, the church implores the Warrens to take a look at the Enfield case for them, to determine whether or not itís a hoax.

††† Although The Conjuring 2 is tagged as being based on a true story, one should always take such statements with a grain of salt; the screenplay (by returning scribes Carey and Chad Hayes) is heavily fictionalised for cinematic purposes, not to mention it introduces a Catholic nun demon thatís personally tied to the Warrens. For window dressing, The Conjuring 2 concerns itself with the infamous Amityville haunting in its opening moments, as Lorraine conducts a sťance inside the house where Ronald DeFeo Jr. mass murdered his family. The Amityville case has, of course, served as the basis for multiple feature films, so the sequence here is short and sweet, intended only to reintroduce the Warrens and deepen their backstory. While a full-length Wan-directed treatment of the Amityville horror would certainly be enticing, this truncated approach was perhaps the wisest in the grand scheme of things. (Another long-delayed Amityville movie is set to land in 2017.)

††† Whereas the original Conjuring was designed as a PG-13 horror movie but received an R rating from the MPAA simply because it was deemed too scary, The Conjuring 2 was built from the ground upwards as an R-rated horror, though this doesnít mean Wan revels in gory indulgence. On the contrary, the Australian horror luminary still relies on suspense and tension, but he has more freedom when creating disturbing images and loud set-pieces. Wan and cinematographer Don Burgess have their craft down to a tee - timing and camerawork are magnificent here, and the big scary sequences are genuinely unsettling, backed by a tremendously creepy score by Joseph Bishara. One particularly hair-raising scene sees Lorraine being stalked in her home by a demonic nun whose painted likeness hangs on the wall, and thereís a recurring motif involving a gangly-limbed nursery rhyme figure known as The Crooked Man. Although Wan doesnít create anything comparable to the unbearably tense game of hide and seek in the first Conjuring, his efforts are consistently focused here, and itís clear he didnít simply operate on autopilot. However, the climax is undeniably overkill, with a digital demon and a fair bit of destruction thatís simply not necessary in the grand scheme of things. Itís not a total bust, but itís not overly scary either; itís just too big and not tight enough.

††† The Conjuring 2 is certainly longer than the usual horror fare at over two hours, incorporating a number of scenes that have drawn criticism, including a bizarre moment involving Ed singing Elvis Presleyís ďCanít Help Falling In Love.Ē Be that as it may, Wan wisely uses the runtime to carve out identifiable characters, performed by a strong ensemble. Wilson and Farmiga pick up where they left off as the Warrens, coming across as warm and likeable. More notable here is young Madison Wolfe, whoís a superb find. Espousing a convincing British accent (Wolfe is an American), she manages to convey fear and vulnerability without ever coming across as forced or unconvincing. It would be a tricky role even for seasoned adult actors, but Wolfe makes it look easy. Strong support is also provided by Frances OíConnor, while Simon McBurney makes a positive impression as Maurice, another paranormal investigator whoís interested in the case.

††† With The Conjuring 2, Wan is now responsible for three horror franchises, not counting those he simply produced (Lights Out and Annabelle are getting sequels). Further Conjuring sequels are reportedly in development (beyond the spinoffs), and this is not a necessarily unwelcome prospect. Considering the quality of other modern horror franchises, we could certainly use more scary movies of this calibre. Fingers crossed, though, that Wan sticks around to direct the next one. All things considered, The Conjuring 2 is effective and entertaining enough to avoid becoming just another disposable sequel.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† The Conjuring 2 comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Roadshow, who present this horror sequel in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Presented in 1080p, this AVC-encoded transfer is very good on the whole, though it does fall a tiny bit short of reference quality due to its rather conservative bitrate that hovers between 20 and 25 Mbps, which actually leaves a fair chunk of unused space on this dual-layer BD-50. Still, all of these quibbles are minor for such an otherwise impressive presentation.

††† Digitally shot using Arri Alexa rigs, Roadshowís transfer retains above-average sharpness and looks nicely detailed throughout, bringing out facial details and textures on the í70s-era clothing, on top of highlighting the impressive period production design. Many key scenes within The Conjuring 2 take place under low light at night, and luckily the blacks are consistently inky and deep, faithfully replicating how the movie looked on the big screen during its lucrative theatrical run. Luckily, too, the transfer does not fall victim to any black crush. Light noise does show up from time to time, but this is source-related rather than the result of compression, and it thankfully looks well-refined rather than blocky. Luckily, no significant problems arise from the encode; I did not detect any aliasing or macroblocking.

††† The movieís colour palette is deliberately muted, and again the transfer retains the intentions of the filmmakers. Additionally, there is a brief montage of stock footage from 1970s London towards the beginning of the movie, with ancient celluloid footage looking exceedingly grainy while other shots look to have been taken from VHS sources. It all looks rough, but this is not an issue that's traceable to the Blu-ray presentation. However, the aforementioned mediocre bitrate does mean that the image throughout is not always as refined as it looked in the cinema, lacking a pop of fine detail and even looking a tad smeary at times. Itís not a deal-breaker, but the movie could perhaps look a bit better in 1080p. Still, this is not to say that the presentation is in any way a disappointment - on the contrary, The Conjuring 2 is still a winner on Blu-ray.

††† A few subtitle options are available.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Much to the delight of audiofiles around the world, The Conjuring 2 comes to Blu-ray loaded with a Dolby Atmos track, but the audio defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix for those without an Atmos set-up. Since I do not have the proper material to sample the Atmos track, I can only review the 7.1 mix, and boy is it a doozy. Wanís horror movies rely a lot on sound to create the chills and scares, so itís fortunate that the audio mix is so good here, oftentimes emerging as downright demo material.

††† First and foremost, all dialogue is well-prioritised and easy to hear, never becoming drowned out by the meticulous soundscape of music or creepy sound effects. Demonic roars rumble, accentuated by solid subwoofer activities, and the surround channels are put to good use. During scenes of heavy rain, the sounds of rainfall are so skilfully all-encompassing that you could swear itís actually raining outside your house. This is a loud, dynamic track, not to mention itís crisp and clear, with no encoding anomalies to speak of.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† A small selection of video extras.

Crafting The Conjuring 2 (HD; 10:09)

††† Here we have a fairly standard, much-too-short EPK-style featurette about the making of the movie. A large roster of cast and crew chime in about their experiences and their thoughts on the production, intercut with a generous amount of behind-the-scenes footage. Itís too short to provide any substantial insight, but itís worthwhile all the same.

The Enfield Poltergeist: Living the Horror (HD; 12:46)

††† Sceptics about this particular case probably wonít find much of worth here, as this featurette is all about the real-life events on which The Conjuring 2 is based. In new interviews recorded specifically for this Blu-ray release, the real Hodgson sisters recall their memories of what happened, and a variety of other participants join the discussion. Thereís also footage of the Hodgson sisters reuniting with Lorraine Warren on the Conjuring 2 set. Fascinating.

Creating Crooked (HD; 6:44)

††† This next behind-the-scenes featurette is all about the Crooked Man character, one of the spirits that haunts the house. The role was played by the extremely tall, freakishly skinny Javier Botet in an elaborate costume. The B-roll and make-up application footage is very insightful.

The Conjuring 2: Hollywoodís Haunted Stage (HD; 5:08)

††† A security guard at Warner Bros. studios happens to be an amateur ghost hunter, so he takes his team to the stage where The Conjuring 2 was shot, which is apparently haunted by former crew members. We get evidence of this by way of a couple of unimpressive EVP recordings. This featurette really should be a lot longer considering its subject.

The Sounds of Scary (HD; 7:00)

††† As implied by the title, this segment is all about Joseph Bisharaís original score for the movie. Bishara talks about his approach to the music (even addressing the Crooked Man rhyme), intercut with footage from recording sessions.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 6:31)

††† Four deleted scenes are available here, which play in one big chunk; thereís no individual scene selection, nor are there titles for the scenes. Most of this stuff is minor and was probably wisely trimmed, but the best scene here shows all the schoolkids relentlessly bullying and mocking Janet.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † All editions worldwide are identical in terms of supplements. Buy local.

Summary

††† It wasn't greeted as warmly as its predecessor, but The Conjuring 2 is a very good sequel for my money. It's better than both the Insidious sequels and all of the Saw sequels. If you're seeking a solid scary movie, you can do far worse than this.

††† I don't have many complaints about the movie's superb presentation on Blu-ray, but the extras are too light for my taste. Nevertheless, this disc comes recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSamsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED55C6T. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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