(On Cable TV, February 2016) The good news, I suppose, is that while The Conjuring 2 is significantly less impressive than its predecessor, the first film was so good that it makes its sequel a fair horror movie rather than a great one. Moving the action in England but keeping the first film’s focus on a family, our likable married heroes and a gradual cranking up of the tension (although the original’s lack of gore is instantly exceeded by a very violent opening dream sequence), The Conjuring 2 is more of the same, but less surprisingly so. Director James Wan is the star here, expertly moving the camera to show (or not show) elements crucial to the tension. The London-set poor-neighborhood is less inspiring than the first film’s farmhouse, and the broken family not quite as likable either, but you can see the script going back to the first film’s strengths whenever it needs a boost. The result may be far more ordinary, but at least it avoids sinking into exploitation or nihilism like so many other horror movies—there’s a core of sheer decency to the single mom trying to keep her family together and the heroic Warren couple (Both Vera Famiglia and Patrick Wilson are likable actors, and the Elvis scenes take their screen relationship to another level of sympathy), and it’s that kind of “this is why horrors are worth fighting” spirit that is all too often missing from cheap horror. This being said, while I was a vocal proponent of The Conjuring, I don’t expect to advocate for this sequel as much—it’s less of a surprise, of course, but it also looks as if it has a built-in public. I’m sure we’ll see a third film soon enough.