Film scores

Soundtrack review: The conjuring 2 (Joseph Bishara – 2016)

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“The Conjuring 2” is a 2016 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan. The film was written by Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, Wan, and David Leslie Johnson. It is the sequel to the film The Conjuring, which was released on July 19, 2013. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as paranormal investigators and authors Ed and Lorraine Warren, who travel to the United Kingdom to investigate poltergeist activity at a council house in Enfield, England. Joseph Bishara wrote the score and when I see his name attached to a horror movie I get really excited because he never fails to scare the daylights out of me.

The score is mostly made of short and intense stabs: 30 cues for 53 minutes. With a horror score though I don’t need long cues. Long means I have time to familiarize myself with the musical surroundings and this diminishes the fear element. I recognize Joseph Bishara’s craft as soon as “As close as hell” takes a bite from me; this is how you write great and efficient horror. The mix of scary choirs, tormented strings and the sudden burst at the end are enough to make me jump from my chair.

Bishara’s haunted house / poltergeist scores are rarely loud, except for the moments of intense activity. They rely on strings that shriek, on motifs that are not heavy as if to mimic the unbearable lightness of ghosts and on uncomfortable sounds. His music though wouldn’t work so well without those sudden loud moment that feel like unexpected traps. I nearly dropped my laptop at the end of “Tented entity” as I was carefully following the tense action and all of a sudden…Boom!

Those moments also help bleed some terror into the quieter parts. Those intelligent loud and scary inserts make me feel unsafe even during the laid back exploration parts. I’m in the dark and if there’s one thing I’m sure of is that something will jump at me. Almost every cue is constructed like that. I enjoy the gothic breaks like “House search” as well. “Crooked movement” shows the extent of fright this show has to offer. If you enjoy this cue you will enjoy it all.

With music that keeps me on my toes and which can also get melodic and beautiful (“Taped voices”), “The conjuring 2” delivers the usual Joseph Bishara horror excellence. This is not a slasher film, it’s a poltergeist story and it needs a lot of quiet terror and suspense; there are rituals and séances and ghastly appearances; the movie needs a special kind of immersive and menacing atmosphere and the composer creates it brilliantly. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 27 / 53

Album excellence: 51%

Highlights:

As Close to Hell

The Conjuring 2

It Isn’t Real

Tented Entity

House Search

From the Grave

Crooked Moving

Taped Voices

Psychic Sharing

Dual Levitation

Trapped Apart

Demon Clled

She’s Alive

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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