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The Conjuring 2

Me Before You

June 9, 2016

The Conjuring 2 (***) R

Those of you reading this review who saw the first installment of The Conjuring some three years ago will most likely remember that film opening with a segment-unrelated to the rest of the pic, involving a vengeful possessed doll. It was a very scary sequence indeed and was memorable enough to have inspired a lackluster film with that doll, named Annabelle, as the lead subject. After the devil doll sequence had come and gone then the film locked into its plot of demonic possession that, more or less worked, until the film fell into very derivative territory during the final twenty minutes or so.

The Annabelle stuff in the original The Conjuring was so effective that James Wan, director of both installments, has attempted to one-up the proceedings with his pre-credits sequence in The Conjuring 2. I won’t say too much except to mention that it’s a recreation of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s (the subjects of both films, actual paranormal investigators) most famous case, which became the film The Amityville Horror. It’s easily more frightening than anything found in both the 1979 and 2005 cinematic versions of the Amityville tale and sets the bar for what audiences can expect for the remainder of the running time of The Conjuring 2.

The second helping of The Conjuring is to me slightly superior to the original. It has the same problem that the original film had, problem being that it borrows conceits and ideas from the possession films of the last forty odd years and ends things on a very derivative note.

Madison Wolfe in The Conjuring 2

Having said that, The Conjuring 2 has enough jump out of your seat moments during its first hour or so that it’s hard not find yourself getting on the roller coaster ride that it provides and going with the flow. It’s a lot of fun while the ride lasts.

The true-life case recreated here is not dissimilar to the one found in the first film. It also deals with a possession except this time the setting is in England and in 1977. Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) is a mother of four whose children are terrorized by the apparition in their flat of an old man who apparently died there years earlier. The ghostbusting husband and wife duo, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga), are dispatched to the home to prove whether the paranormal happenings are real or imagined. This leads to all kinds of frightening set pieces that eventually give way to the clumsy finale but offer some real goose bump inducing moments along the way.

The Conjuring 2 is exceptionally well shot. I was very impressed with some of the camera angles and the exquisite use of widescreen framing. It works well and it, along with the film’s effective musical cues, manage to serve up a fright film that will most likely please all but the most cynical.

Me Before You (** ½)

PG-13

Me Before You, based on the best selling novel by Jo Jo Moyes and yet another weepie in the ever-popular Young Adult genre, is the kind of film that did a number on this moviegoer. Just when I thought I was ready to dismiss the whole endeavor—mainly during the film’s first hour, which featured more sitcom styled jokes than I could shake a stick at—I found myself being won over by its charms. The crowd that I screened it with were also obviously affected by its moving ending and I too found myself getting swept up in it despite my own protestations. It isn’t a perfect film by any means, but you have to give something credit when it plays a number on you and manages to break through to your emotions and pull you into its orbit long after you think you’ve reached the point where you think that simply isn’t possible.

Emilia Clarke, star of the HBO series Game of Thrones and the ill-advised reboot of the Terminator franchise Terminator, Genisys, is young working class girl, Louisa Clark.

Emilia Clarke & Sam Claflin in Me Before You

At the beginning of the film, she loses her pastry shop job of six years and is desperate to find a job that will supplement her parent’s meager income. She interviews for a job taking care of William Traynor (Sam Claflin), a twentysomething with all the advantages that money has to offer whose life was drastically changed after a tragic accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. William’s mother (Janet McTeer) is hoping to find someone who will inspire her son to want to live again and pins her hopes on Louisa being that girl. Louisa and William eventually grow closer but there are certain details that Louisa isn’t privy to that, when revealed in the film’s final section, make her question her investment in William, both emotionally and otherwise.

Me Before You is, ostensibly, a romantic picture and also a well worn tale of star-crossed lovers, but it also has some weightier things on its mind that it is determined to get across. I mean who would have thought that a film like this would actually attempt to deal intelligently with the subject of euthanasia?  Me Before You does make an honest attempt to do just that, among other things, which took me by surprise. It also may be a good thing in terms of getting younger audiences to examine their feelings on a controversial subject that they may not have given much thought to before seeing the film. No one should be able to complain about that.

Me Before You and The Conjuring 2 are playing in Hickory and many other theaters.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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