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When it comes to sequels, the horror genre isn't exactly known for being at the top of its game. There is an impressive number of scary franchises that got off to a great start, but then spent year after year churning out cheap and unfortunate follow-ups. This is a history that director James Wan was more than conscious of in the making of The Conjuring 2, which is why he actually has a joking nod in the movie to this legacy - specifically by having a montage early in the feature include a shot of a 1970s movie theater that happens to be playing Exorcist II: The Heretic.
When I sat down with James Wan at the Conjuring 2 press day this past weekend, one of the first things we talked about was the not-so-great legacy of horror sequels. It was while we were rattling off a list of really terrible movies together that I mentioned Exorcist II, and the director responded by pointing out a fun Easter egg that fans can look out for when they see the new film this weekend. Because the new feature is set in 1977, the year that Exorcist II came out, Wan felt that a reference would be a fun little nod -- especially because it would help him get out in front of comparisons made between his film and the original Exorcist. He explained,
Because I knew everyone is going to compare it to the frickin' Exorcist, in my montage sequence at the start, the montage of London, I had, I think it was off Piccadilly Circus, I put a movie marquis of the Exorcist 2, not number 1, 2. [laughter]. It was fun, because it was the correct time period!
For those unfamiliar with the history of Exorcist II: The Heretic, what makes this nod especially funny is the fact that the John Boorman-directed film is widely regarded as by far the worst movie in the Exorcist franchise (a series that also includes three other terrible sequels). It was critically reviled when it was initially released, and while there are plenty of less-than-great horror movies that have actually aged quite well, it is most definitely not one of them.
James Wan himself hasn't had the greatest success with sequels, with Insidious Chapter 2 getting a lukewarm reception when it came out in 2013, but the best news in all of this is that comparisons between _The Conjuring 2 _and Exorcist II: The Heretic are completely unfounded -- with Wan's film actually being a worthy follow-up to its predecessor and a fun, scary summer treat. We highly recommend checking it out in theaters this weekend.