At a recent séance attended by our Editor all of us who were present had their hands gripping each other’s round the table as Septic Peg was trying to raise the dead which in this case was the Editor’s career (‘You’re fired!‘ – Ed). Typically he’d had too much fizzy lager and when the mental mystic cried out, ‘Is anybody there?’ the reply was an audible bottom burp from the Editor and then as he desperately tried not to laugh found that as we were all holding ones another’s hands so tightly he couldn’t put his hand across his mouth and to save himself bursting out with laughter he blurted out, ’Michael Jackson!’ and proceeded to channel the singer in a falsetto version of a far from appropriate version of, ‘Leave me alone’. It came as no surprise that we were all thrown out.
Equally it would be true that most people have trouble taking screen séances seriously and this sequel to the 2014 hit starts off with an albeit effectively spooky one as widowed clairvoyant Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) seemingly contacts a clients deceased wife until it turns out to be an elaborate series of hoax stunts they pull on their clients the help of her two daughters. It’s when elder daughter Paulina is discovered by her mother playing on a Ouija board with her friends that they incorporate it into their scheme only to find that a malevolent spirit takes over the youngest daughter, Doris.
The first film back in 2014 was a low budget affair costing a paltry $5m budget going on to make an amazing $103m worldwide. Amazing only because it was a pretty ropey affair with standard shocks but money talks and a sequel was inevitable and this one much like the original goes for scares over gore hence the lack of an 18 certificate. Set in 1967 this looks at the origin of the evil (the clue is in the title in case you missed it) seen in the first film but really this pays little if any notice of the first film and works just as well, if not better, as a standalone film. If anything it’s interesting to see the obligatory priest played by Henry Thomas still trying and failing to shake his iconic role in ET. If this is anyone’s film it’s Lulu Wilson as the possessed young daughter Doris who is effectively eerie and in fairness she’s a bit of an underage scream queen having already racked up appearances in ‘Deliver us from Evil’ and has just finished work on ‘Annabelle 2’. Here she’s all milky eyed and menacing muttering. For director Mike Flanagan, who also co wrote the script, he has pedigree in horror himself having directed Oculus, Hush and Before I Wake and this sequel is workmanlike but is nothing special and at times plays like a cross between The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror with nods to James Wan but at least by the time the credits roll it refrains from brazenly setting up another sequel.
Here’s the trailer: