INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2
*** (out of 5)
September 13, 2013
Patrick Wilson as JOSH LAMBERT
Rose Byrne as RENAI LAMBERT
Ty Simpkins as DALTON LAMBERT
Lin Shaye as ELISE RAINIER
Barbara Hershey as LORRAINE LAMBERT
Steve Coulter as CARL
Leigh Whannell as SPECS
Angus Sampson as TUCKER
Directed by: James Wan
BY KEVIN CARR
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I was a huge fan of both “Insidious” from two years ago and “The Conjuring” this past summer. I don’t think that director James Wan can do no wrong, because I’ve also seen “Dead Silence,” and that film was bloody awful. However, in the past few years, he has taken a deliberate trip to a retro style of horror filmmaking that I appreciate.
The first “Insidious” was his first real step into this realm, and it worked fantastically. I loved the fact that he didn’t rely on over-used CGI, but instead worked with practical effects and tricks of shadow and sound. “The Conjuring” furthered those uses and brought horror filmmaking back to a visceral level we saw in the 70s.
I wouldn’t say that “Insidious: Chapter 2” is a stumbling block on that path, but he does try some other techniques that don’t quite work as well. Still, I respect the man for trying.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” picks up on the same night the first film took place. After Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) successfully retrieved his son from “The Further” (basically the astral plane populated by ghosts and spirits), the family is picking up the pieces from that night. Mainly, they are dealing with the police after having to report the death of Elise (Lin Shaye) during the event.
As they try to get back to normal with their lives, and while the police are investigating Elise’s death, strange things continue to happen. Even though they’ve moved to the home of Lorraine Lambert (Barbara Hershey), Josh’s mother, ghostly events start right up. It becomes clear that Josh brought something else back with him after visiting “The Further.”
Anyone who has seen “Insidious” knows that the film set itself up completely for this sequel. And there are some respectable moments that tie in perfectly with the first film. Still, the movie suffers a bit from the forced nature of sequels, at times becoming just a little too self-aware.
I appreciated the fact that Wan continued to use practical effects – even with the ghostly entities. These moments are, for the most part, entirely effective in the first half of the film. However, like any real movie mystery, once too much is revealed about the unseen, things lose their luster fast.
One of the choices that Wan makes in the last half of the picture is to go for overt scares in a well lit, almost too-bright, room. I think that’s a bold choice, and deserves praise for having the stones to try something like that. However, these scenes reveal why so many horror movies are shot in the dark. With the lights on, it’s hard to not see the monsters are people with face paint rather than creepy visions.
In a lot of ways, “Insidious” was a throwback to 70s horror. Even though it came out only two years later, “Insidious: Chapter 2” seems to be a throwback to 80s sequels, which are still enjoyable but don’t have the same fresh look as their original. I don’t want to scold Wan for trying new things in this film because that’s how you keep horror fresh over the years. However, it’s not his best work in the field.
Still, for a somewhat forced sequel, “Insidious: Chapter 2” has enough thrills to make it a fun release on Friday the 13th.