Friday, 24 June 2016

The Conjuring 2 (4 Stars)

This is the second film about the psychic investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, a husband and wife who spent years investigating haunted houses with the support of the Roman Catholic Church. Their most famous case was the Amityville haunting in 1976. The first film deals with the Perron haunting (1971), and this film deals with the Enfield haunting (1977). The Amityville case is shown briefly in flashbacks at the beginning of the second film. It probably wasn't shown as a film in its own right because it's already been the subject of more than a dozen films.

The film begins with the Warrens, who lived in Conneticut, considering retiring from psychic investigation because of the toll it was taking on their family. However, they aren't able to retire because representatives of the Church ask them to travel to England to investigate a haunted council house in Enfield, in the north of London. A single mother, Peggy Hodgson, is living with her four children. Furniture and other objects are moving by themselves. The spirit of a former resident of the house, Ben Wilkins, is possessing the 11-year-old daughter Janet and speaking through her lips with an old man's voice. After the Warrens arrive they discover that Ben Wilkins is actually being controlled by a powerful demon who intended to lure them to England to kill them.

As in the case of most psychic phenomena there are people on one side who insist that everything is genuine and people on the other side who insist that everything is fake. People believe what they want to, and each side clings to individual pieces of evidence that prove they're right while ignoring everythin else. In this case the sceptics claim that the haunting was faked by Janet and her 13-year-old sister Margaret. I have difficulty believing that two girls of this age could succeed in fooling the Catholic Church and its representatives. Apart from this, police officers also witnessed furniture moving by itself. In order for the haunting to be faked a lot of people would have had to be participating in the deception. I don't believe that a large number of people are capable of keeping a secret of this magnitude for 40 years.

I'm not someone who believes in paranormal phenomena for the sake of it. I'm a natural sceptic, but I'm also open to the possibility that things happen that can't be explained. I don't know enough about the Enfield case to form an opinion, but let's assume that it really did happen roughly as portrayed in the film. My tendency is to look for a different explanation to what was seen, or at the least I say I have no explanation. I have trouble accepting that the Catholic Church and its representatives have power to battle demons and other unseen forces. If I really believed that the Catholic Church has the power to drive out demons I would want to join it, but I can't become a Catholic because I think that what they believe about God is rubbish. That's my dilemma. Maybe a cult within the Catholic Church has somehow tapped into power which has nothing to do with the beliefs of the mainstream church. I don't know.

But getting back to the film itself, it's a good film which does its job scaring the viewer. The question about whether it really happened or not only complicates the issue. I'm someone who thinks too much. That's one of my biggest faults. I recommend that you just sit back and enjoy the film as it is.

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