Based on the Enfield Poltergeist case, one of the more famous hauntings in British history. An adorable little British family is being haunted by a demon, and one of them is possessed. Whatever are they to do? Good thing the Warrens are on the case!
I’ll admit to being hesitant about this movie. I enjoyed the first one a decent amount, but the trailers for this movie looked terrible. I actually laughed out loud at a couple of points, although maybe that says more about me than the trailer. “A room full of upside crosses? HILARIOUS!” I am not well.
To my surprise, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Well…I enjoyed about 60% of it. The story with the Hodgson family was terrific. The characters were well-drawn and easy to love – the little British boy offering his mom biscuits to help her through a stressful time melted my cold, dead heart – and the haunting/possession stuff was scary. I cared about that family. I didn’t like that Janet – sweet Janet – was being possessed by an old man. You leave Janet alone, Mr. Wilkins.
That stuff was great. The other 40% was filled with the Warrens. You want me to say it? Fine, I’ll say it. It was too much of the Warrens. And it wasn’t just about the Warrens in general: it was about how great they are. How true their intentions are. That Ed, isn’t he great? He’s the best. Look at him sing an entire Elvis song to these fatherless children. Look how handsome and caring he is. Look at him fix up that house. “Lemme roll up my sleeves and fix everything in your house while getting rid of a demon. Save your money: my payment is in a job well done and a demon-free house.”
At one point he says, “There have been cases we’ve turned down; there has never been a family we have refused to help.” What a guy! I’m surprised the movie didn’t end with him adopting all of the homeless children in the city. “Come live with me! I’ll cook breakfast for you every day in a suit!”
I know why they did this: they’re working on a franchise here, and the thing that links all the movies together is the Warrens. It’s not a bad concept, as every movie gets a totally different case with a totally different family. So they need us to like and root for the Warrens. But we don’t need them to be this much in the foreground.
There were two plots in this movie: we had the Enfield case, but we also had Lorraine seeing a vision of Ed’s death and being scared by it. So we get a creepy scene of Janet talking to a shadow, then we get Lorraine saying, “I don’t think we should go, Ed. It’s too dangerous.” For, like, 20 minutes. They basically took two movies and smashed them together. Whenever they showed the family, I loved it. Whenever they focused on the Warrens, my interest began to wane.
This movie was two hours and 14 minutes long. Even then, they had to rush through the third act just to bring the story to its conclusion. The leaps in logic that took place over the last 15 minutes were astounding. Lorraine was spouting exposition like a crazy person. “The demon is this and this and this is how we know this and that and this and DEMONS AND VISIONS.” They could have cut out 45 minutes of the Warrens and built in some of that exposition naturally, instead of having it shouted at us from the back of a station wagon (I think the license plate on the station wagon was INFODMP). Or keep it, cut out 45 minutes of the Warrens and have the movie clock in at 90 minutes. Either one of those options would have been fine.
When I liked this movie, I really liked it. But there was too much “look how great the Warrens are, I certainly hope Ed doesn’t die,” that really killed the momentum for my liking. I still recommend watching it, but be prepared to be tossed between two completely different stories for large portions of the movie.
For most of the movie, Lorraine is terrified of Ed dying. It’s the drama driving their story. Meanwhile, if you know anything about the Warrens you know that Ed lived to be 79 years old and died surrounded by his family. He certainly wasn’t impaled on a tree in Enfield.