Director: James Wan
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Steve Coulter, Danielle Bisutti and Lin Shaye
Plot: The Lamberts adjust to normality after the incident in the first film, but soon Renai (Byrne) begins to believe her husband might have brought something back with him.
Insidious Chapter Two is actually a very important movie and not just because it is testing the potential franchise power that the premise has. No, this is James Wan’s last horror movie for the foreseeable future, meaning that we will have to wave goodbye to the man who brought us Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious. He will be sorely missed.
But grieving aside, on with the movie. The film opens pretty much where the original left off. Elise’s body lies dead, killed by something that appeared from the Further. The police swarm over the murder and the Lambert’s head over to Josh’s mother’s house to get away from the nightmare they just escaped. However, Renai soon realises that the Further might not be done with them just yet. Electronics turn themselves on, the piano plays itself and a sinister-looking woman, who is fond of bitch-slapping, is seen wandering around the house. Josh seems to want to ignore it although, wanting to get his family back to normal. But then Renai can’t help but ask herself: is Josh still Josh?
As this movie plays out, you cannot help but think that Insidious really didn’t have the steam left for a second outing. It seems to be business as usual. Renai wanders around a house, building up tension and spooking the hell out of the audience. It’s not particularly bad, in fact, it’s exactly what we asked for in terms of horror, but we’ve been here before. Same creepy soundtrack, same build-up to the actual ghosts. To keep things fresh, the action keeps jumping to Josh’s mother as she teams up with Elise’s old team and try to work out exactly what happened. Basically, we have these two stories playing out, each pretty spooky, but not particularly original. It feels like Wan is trying to keep the action going, but it feels like such a desperate attempt to rekindle the flame that the first Insidious had that we cannot help but feel disheartened at Wan’s efforts.
But give it time, because Wan’s risks pay off. While the first Insidious has us appreciating Wan as a director, this will have us appreciating him as a storyteller. He takes the most interesting villain from last time, the old bride and builds her into an interesting character. We take the time to learn about the past of this villain and exactly why she became so insidious. By the time, Wan is done with the character, there is a Hannibal Lecter-esque backstory attached to the movie. If Insidious really does fancy branching out into a massive franchise, then maybe it will find some strength in being about supernatural serial killers.
Insidious Chapter Two is the rare kind of film that might trip itself up with too much narrative, but in doing so, it improves the first. The script takes some interesting routes and answers questions we didn’t even realise needed answering. Wan proves himself to be a very intelligent weaver of a story. I cannot wait to re-watch the first Insidious with a full knowledge on how all of these characters and universes tick. Sure, it isn’t as scary as the first film, seeing as now the rules of Insidious have been set in stone, Wan cannot be as randomly creepy as he could with the first. All of the scares now have to make sense, rather than just be scary. Therefore, while we now appreciate how clever Insidious has become, the first movie is still superior when it comes to scaring the hell out of people.
Final Verdict: Insidious 2 sacrifices itself to improve the franchise as a whole. Nonetheless, it is still creepy, well-acted and now one of the most interesting horrors out there.
Good review Luke. Not like most sequels out there where it just does the same thing from the first, but still not better than the original, even if I didn’t love that one all that much either. Just two very mediocre flicks.
Nice review – Seeing a lot of mixed reviews on this one; good to see a positive review! (Now all I need is an Australian release date…)
Glad I read this review, I’d heard a lot of negative reports about this sequel and thought I’d probably be disappointed.