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'The Conjuring 2' Blu-ray Review: Spooky sequel scares up genuine terror

September 15, 2016Ben MK

Before director James Wan was making big budget studio tentpoles like Furious 7 and Aquaman, he was sending shivers down the spines of moviegoers with smaller scale horror films like Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious. Now, Wan has returned to the genre with The Conjuring 2. And in the words of Martha Stewart, "It's a good thing."

Set in 1977, The Conjuring 2 continues the story of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), as they travel from America to Enfield, England, to help besieged single mother Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor) and her four children, Margaret (Lauren Esposito), Johnny (Patrick McAuley), Janet (Madison Wolfe) and Billy (Benjamin Haigh), who have only recently begun to be tormented by a mysterious, spectral attacker. When the Warrens arrive at the Hodgson's unassuming council house, however, they discover something much more terrifying — a personal connection to the haunting that they did not expect.

Like its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 is based on true events. However, Wan and co-writers Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes and David Johnson have also embellished the story, weaving in their own subplot concerning a demon who bears a nun's habit and a malicious vendetta. The result is seamless, and if you have no preexisting knowledge about the Hodgson case, you'd be hard-pressed to know where the facts end and where the fiction begins. Of course, once you realize which portions of the story have been completely fabricated, things become a lot less scary.

For most viewers, though, any such realization won't come till after the movie is over. And for what it's worth, The Conjuring 2 is plenty terrifying in the meantime, with Wan and company excelling at creating a genuine sense of dread, especially during the buildup of tension that occupies most of the film's initial half. Despite a few missteps along the way — such as a misguided attempt at introducing a Babadook kind of vibe into the narrative — The Conjuring 2 does its job effectively, and it's guaranteed to inspire its fair share of sleepless nights.

The Conjuring 2 haunts Blu-ray with a terrifyingly terrific technical presentation, one that suits the film's eerie mood to a tee. Fine details remain sharply resolved throughout, showcasing the period production design of the Hodgsons' unkempt residence; color saturation is robust, even though the color palette in England is somewhat muted and overcast; and contrast is excellent, as darkened scenes are rarely ever murky. The disc's Dolby Atmos sound mix is also quite effective, churning out with both regularity and crystalline clarity such horror movie mainstays as sudden thumps, ghastly shrieks, eerie voices, demonic laughs and ghostly footsteps.

Warner's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Crafting The Conjuring 2 (10:09) - A look at the making of the film, from the real-life story behind it, the London setting and the cinematography, to the production design, the cast and the tone of the movie.
  • The Enfield Poltergeist: Living the Horror (12:46) - Archival photos and recordings and interviews with the real-life Janet Hodgson, Margaret Hodgson and Lorraine Warren shed light on the true events on which The Conjuring 2 is based.
  • Creating Crooked (6:44) - A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the movie's Crooked Man character, from the costume design to the actor's performance.
  • The Conjuring 2: Hollywood's Haunted Stage (5:08) - Paranormal investigator Johnny Matook takes viewers on a tour of the purportedly haunted Stage 4 on the Warner Bros. Studios lot, where The Conjuring 2 was filmed.
  • The Sounds of Scary (7:00) - Composer Joseph Bishara talks about the creation of the film's score.
  • Deleted Scenes (6:31) - Four scenes.

The Conjuring 2 is available from Warner Bros Home Entertainment as of September 13th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 14 Mins.

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