Exorcist II: The Heretic. Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. A horror movie can't be called a proper hit until it's got a sequel. And now those illustrious examples are joined by The Conjuring. The difference here is, in a turn that feels more ghoul-inspired than anything in any of those films, that this is the rare horror sequel that's actually better than the first.
James Wan's 2013 chiller was a massive success, bringing in $300 million on a $20 million budget (hence the follow-up), although I did find all the hype a bit too much; it was certainly solid, bringing together all manner of disparate horror tropes into one harmonious whole, but there was no escaping how it completely lost itself in the final act, where convention trumped innovation.
Normally being so financially motivated would hurt a sequel, exacerbating those previous problems. And yet, while the plot of "The Enfield Haunting" (the film's little-used subtitle) is somewhat similar to the first - a family (this time in England) are haunted by some demonic spirit, bringing in supernatural fighters the Warrens for help - and key elements return (the film has great fun again with a zoetrope), this is altogether a better movie than the first.
The film's a rollercoaster, a incredibly fun ride with such ingenuity its flaws can be overlooked; even when the final third ridiculousness returns, it's refreshingly less extreme. Here are six ups and two downs from The Conjuring 2.