In the past decade and a half we have, in many ways, erased the stigma that sequels are generally bad. We live in a time where sequels to major movies are given a great deal of resources and attention and often even wind up surpassing their predecessors in terms of quality. Sure, you can still point to dozens of crummy sequels released every year, but we no longer assume that a sequel is going to be bad – an assumption we used to maintain for a long, long time.
Horror sequels, though, are something of a different animal. Every horror fan has their favorite horror series, but even they will admit that half or more of those movies are probably garbage. I recently attended an all-night marathon of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies at the New Beverly Cinema, and while the sum total of the night was fun, that stretch between The Dream Master and Freddy’s Dead was a real drag. Even more recent horror series like Saw or Insidious haven’t been able to overcome the problem of diminishing returns.
But somehow, The Conjuring 2 is the real deal. It’s perhaps not quite as good as the original, but it comes damn close. It maintains the things that made the first film great, without feeling like a stale retread. When I – along with writers from several other publications – had the chance to sit down with Chad and Carey Hayes who, along with David Leslie Johnson, wrote this new film, I was very interested to hear about their approach to making sure this movie was not only scary, but also moving and earnest.