The way Wan connected the story was really satisfying and interesting, i thought it was a good sequel. This one's direction seems better to me due to my adjustment to Wan's acute way of storytelling. Not really creepy as the first one because i also got used to the theme. Among these two movies, this gave me the hardest jumpscare, when Renai got hit in the head... That was intense for me haha
While better directed & more compelling than its predecessor, with a genuinely imaginative use of colour & composition replacing Wan's more typical emphasis on badly framed wide-angle shots, disorganised jump cuts & "nu-metal" styled monochrome, it's still a film essentially about nothing! There's no real theme here; no subtext; no passion. It's just an extended tribute to horror scenes & images already seen before.
While it may be difficult to fault James Wan for his technique, as he is clearly a student of 70's horror filmmaking, I can at the very least criticize him for not deploying that skill in the service of stronger scripts. The long takes, the slow zooms, the Argento-esque lighting - they don't rouse as much feeling when in the context of a forgettable PG-13 spookfest aimed at multiplex-going teenagers.
Effective followup to the surprise hit finds Wan expanding and folding back the events of the first installment in a rather satisfying way. The lack of surprise in this chapter hurts the film but is somewhat compensated for by the performances. Mind you some of the scripting choices are dubious at best. Nice set up for a third installment though.