Thursday, June 16, 2016
THE CONJURING 2 Has a Passionate Love Story Wrapped Inside a Terrifying Nightmare
By now, I'm sure most of us horror nerds have seen The Conjuring 2. And it's just as sinister, unsettling, and 70s-styled as you've already heard (and might I add a hearty Amen to that, because you just never know these days with modern American horror). Bravo.
But what folks aren't really talking about is how romantic the film is. Yes, in the middle of my pulling my scarf practically over my entire face watching some of these scenes in the theater (by myself, by the way, at night like a boss), there are genuine moments of heartfelt passion between the two paranormal experts, Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson)--united in demonic ghost worlds yet strengthened by their eternal love for each other. While The Conjuring 2 focuses on the couple's latest subject, Janet, an 11-year-old girl in England possessed by the ghost of a 70-something-year-old man enraged by the fact that Janet and her family are residing in his old home, there's an underlying layer that highlights a central theme in both Lorraine and Ed's characters: love and compassion.
We saw this in the previous film, though a little more dimly. We knew that Lorraine and Ed are accustomed to thrusting themselves into some of the most horrifying situations ever documented, and through it all they've relied on each other for safety, validation, and companionship. But in this latest installment, perhaps because their lives are both threatened beyond their worst nightmares, their love becomes the only thing left that can save them and keep them from disposing their faith. And with that, we see more scenes of them at home with their daughter, looking pleadingly into each other's eyes in desperate fear of losing each other, and putting each other's lives into their hands. I guess it's true what they say: in the face of death, all you can cling to is what (and in this case, who) is worth staying alive for.
As is the case in many great horror movies, including The Shining, Poltergeist, and The Exorcist, there are themes of love, family, and tenderness which heighten the urgency of the frightening conflict--and The Conjuring 2 is no different. It creates a connection between the characters and the audience, and carves a sense of humanity in the middle of a truly extraordinary phenomenon. Now, I'm not saying that horror films can't scare the bejesus out of you--quite the contrary--but to dismiss the fragility of love and familial dependency found in each of these stories would be to denounce the very thing that gives them their legs.