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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Insidious: Chapter 2

InsidiousChapter2

James Wan returns with his second horror film of the year (and apparently his final one for the foreseeable future).  Insidious: Chapter 2 takes place nearly immediately after the events of the previous film and sees Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) staying with their kids at the house of Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), while police investigate the mysterious death of the psychic medium Elise (Lin Shaye).  Almost immediately, strange events begin to happen throughout the house and Josh begins to act really strangely.  While Renai contends with these new hauntings, Lorraine joins up with paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson) and Elise’s old colleague Carl (Steve Coulter) to investigate the origins of who or what is haunting the Lorraine family this time.

I have to say that I quite enjoyed the original Insidious when I saw it as part of the Midnight Madness programme at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.  It was an effective and scary film with some unique twists on the haunted house genre.  I also thought that Insidious had a fairly complete ending.  Sure, there was a dark twist at the end, but I didn’t think it was something that you could leverage into a sequel.

Well, it appears that I was wrong and the story continues with Chapter 2.  Insidious: Chapter 2 is a bit more a fragmented film, since much of the action is split between Renai and her kids coping with the recurring hauntings (and Josh’s odd behaviour), as well as the investigations by Lorraine into the source of the hauntings.  Insidious: Chapter 2 makes a mistake made by many sequels in how it strives to explain way too much.  Namely, this film is all about explaining the ghost of the old woman, who haunted Josh as a child.  This was one of the more creepy images from the first film and explaining this ghost only works to lessen the impact.  Let me just say that the revelation got a bit of a “what the hell” reaction from me.

While I thought the ghosts were somewhat creepy in the original Insidious, here they are almost laughable.  There is nothing at all scary about ghosts that wear garish white make-up and scream obnoxious lines.  I really missed the truly scary red-faced demon from the first film, who is completely missing this time around.  I also have to say that the spirit world of “the further,” introduced in the first film, gets a lot more complicated this time around, with it no longer being merely a spirit limbo, but a place where you can travel to different time periods and interact with events in people’s lives.  I liked it better when it was a simple realm with scary images.

Despite this being a much lesser film, Insidious: Chapter 2 still had its moments.  Some of the earlier hauntings in the film are quite decent in their scariness and there is clever sequence in the film, which revisits a moment from the first film, except from a different perspective.  Also, while I don’t want to spoil too much, I will say that Patrick Wilson does a good job with the arc of his character in the film.

Since I enjoyed the first film so much, it is disappointing how underwhelmed I was at Insidious: Chapter 2.  This film just goes to show that studios shouldn’t just make sequels to every successful horror film.  Even this film ends with another blatant sequel set-up, so we can all expect Insidious: Chapter 3 in the future, even if it won’t be directed by James Wan, who announced that he is done with making horror films (for the time being).  I guess that’s just the nature of the film business for you.

6 | WATCHABLE

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).