The horror movie mini-masterclass continues. The Conjuring 2 conjures up faith in a story long since proved false; James Wan's manipulation of the truth is rather easier to submit to than the mental manipulations his audience must do. Give into this film's technical charms - it's worth it - but keep a talisman of common sense and smarts clasped at the ready for its thematic toxicity. For the first half, The Conjuring 2 operates much as its predecessor, serving as a condensed catalogue of all the horror movie tropes and techniques that inspired it. If it's less ingenious than that predecessor (and as the many more from which it follows), it's actually scarier - the threats here are more palatable, more harrowing, closer to hand. Wan has unearthed a direct line to his audience's nerves, and he near strips it bare. And then he exploits us further - having worn us down with one terror after another, he seeks to turn his film into more (or is it less) than the crass but atmospherically effective rebuttal of a hoax. It becomes a prophet of trust in the catholic church, ridiculing the sceptics, mocking their plausible theories - since found to be genuine - and exalting the process of lying in the pursuit of attention, converted here into the pursuit of religious conviction. It was all working so well as a slightly shlocky horror movie, made with more care than it perhaps deserved; too much care, in the end, in both the right places and the wrong. It's at once an improvement in quality and a deterioration in intent.