I have written about how using “based on a true story” or “inspired by actual events” is solely a marketing gimmick which ultimately adds nothing to a film. After watching The Conjuring 2 I have to qualify that a bit.
Lorraine and Ed Warren are honest to goodness, “real” life people (Ed passed in 2006). They were a husband and wife paranormal investigative team who lead fascinating lives. Regardless of whether or not the spirits, hauntings, possessions, etc., portrayed in The Conjuring 2, and The Conjuring, actually happened are beside the point. I have had several “haunted” experiences which I love to recount. I know they were bullshit, but who cares? The memories I and my friends/family have are priceless. The Warrens have that, too, but their experiences are cranked up to 1000. They were a part of both America’s and England’s most notorious haunted houses. How fucking cool is that? Uhm, VERY!
Think about this. How many millions of dollars are spent every year on spooky encounters? How many billions on Halloween? How much on horror stuff in general? We love this shit. ‘Cos it’s badass!
Now think about this: they got PAID to investigate this stuff. Uhm, I’ll have what their having, please!
Super awesome coolness aside, all this does nothing for The Conjuring 2. Sure, the Warrens were real people. Yeah, the house in Brimsdown, Enfield was the most documented case of haunting. Blah, blah, blah. Bottom line, what draws us into the story is the haunting. How much of that was “fact” and how much was fiction to create an entertaining story? There’s the issue. That question is why the “real story” aspect is a gimmick when applied to movies. The movie is good so long as you think, “Man! That really happened?”
Then you find how much was fictionalized and you feel cheated. Each time you watch a film marketed as “real” you’re into it until the end. As the credits roll the little voice in the back of your mind whispers, “Yeah, that was all right, but what REALLY happened?” The questions flood in and the magic is lost. Eventually the wonder is gone completely.
So let the damn story be entertaining because it is well written, not because some passing aspect may or may not have actually happened.
Now, getting off my soapbox, what about The Conjuring 2? Well, it was standard fare. Young child is plagued/possessed by and evil spirt. No one believes her. Things are moved and broken. Sleepwalking. Screaming. Blah blah blah. The spirit haunting the house was creepy, but nothing to loose sleep over, or even think about much after leaving the theater. There’s a twist that is like lighting a snake firework and it goes off perfectly. Meh.
This story was a bit more heartbreaking than most horror films because the family was so poor. The house they were living in is a council house, or social housing for low income families. The Hodgson family, Peggy, Janet, Margaret, Johnny and Billy, were struggling to make it day to day before all hell literally broke loose in their midst. Talk about kicking someone when they are down.
Bottom line, The Conjuring 2 made me want to find a documentary on the Warrens. Assuming that the barest of minimums is true, they lead an incredibly fascinating life. I want more of that. If there’s such a film check that out. Otherwise, give The Conjuring 2 a pass.