Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: James Wan, Leigh Whannell
Starring: Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, Danielle Biscutti, Jocelin Donahue, Lin Shaye, Lindsay Seim, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Steve Coulter, Ty Simpkins
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
(15) Running time: 105 minutes
Director: James Wan
Writers: Leigh Whannell, James Wan
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye, Steve Coulter, Angus Sampson, Jocelin Donahue, Lindsay Seim, Danielle Biscutti
James Wan gave horror a real burst of brilliance with 2011’s Insidious: an imaginative, fresh, fun and ultra frightening experience that made being scared cool again. It became one of the biggest horror films of that year, and horror fans flocked to the cinema multiple times to enjoy the fun. No doubt Insidious: Chapter 2 will sell tons of tickets, and just might end up becoming the year’s biggest horror film, but at what cost?
See, Wan is a credible horror director and gave us the genre defining Saw (2004), the dark and excellent Death Sentence (2007) and Dead Silence (2007) of course the superb Insidious (2011) and this year’s terrific real life horror, The Conjuring. Now, The Conjuring showed a director using his gifts he so expertly brought to the screen with Insidious, and moving them forward into a harsh, serious horror that I firmly believe is one of the year’s best. Sadly, Insidious: Chapter 2 feels like a step back, and instead of injecting more ideas and creativity, the sequel feels like a rehash of the first film, bogged down by an overly complicated plot that seems to be far too ambitious for the film.
We begin directly after the events of the first film, and find Renai (Byrne) being questioned by police about Elise Rainier’s (Shaye) murder. The police suspect it was Josh (Wilson) but have no proof, and the Lambert family move in with Mother Lorraine (Hershey) to try and rebuild their lives after the horrific events of the first film. As expected though, The Further and the spooks that come with it are not quite finished with this family, and things go bad again. We get a new house, some cool new surroundings (I especially liked the Argento-like colourings) and a few more un-friendly ghosts as Insidious: Chapter 2 prepares to live up to its promise.
Wan still manages to deliver the scares with great visual flare, and a superb sense of what makes horror fans tick. However, the scares are pretty much the same as what we saw in the first film, and also in The Conjuring a short while ago, and sadly now that we know what to expect, and we know just how Wan intends to scare us, the element of surprise is lost. This results in the scares still working, but they are watered down by the knowledge of your expectations, and the relentless onslaught of horror from the first film becomes much weaker here. The usual loud bang of a piano, Wan’s obsession with creaky old cupboards, the ghost in the background, hell there is even a little boy type moment reminiscent of what worked so magically in the first film (tip toe through the tulips anyone?). The scares here are effective, but to the Wan initiated, they lose their strengths.
Insidious: Chapter 2 comes across as almost desperate, and feels like Wan was either too busy (what with Fast & Furious 7 starting production) or lost faith in the horror film that truly made him a star. The sequel feels suffocated in unnecessary plots about vicious serial killers and bullying mother’s, and loses the simplicity of what made the first film so great. Here there is far too much of a plot to follow, with lose ends and twists that feel out of place and annoying. The first film concentrated solely on scaring the viewer, whereas the sequel asks for the viewer to think about the story, and become somewhat attached to the villains. The original did not ask this, and was so much more effective because it was simple and effective. Insidious was supposed to be about terrifying the audience, not confusing them with time travel nonsense and cross dressing serial killers. Add to this the fact those who did not appreciate The Further will have far more to complain about here, Insidious: Chapter 2 comes across as slightly irritating to those who felt the original went too far, and those who struggle with the second half of the first film will really struggle here.
However, the scares ARE effective, and Wan’s masterful approach is guaranteed to have you peering through gaps in your fingers. Once the film takes on its dark and scary approach (which is very early on) things become more frightening really quickly, but sadly Wan’s stunning skill is wasted as the film goes forward, and jump out of your seat shock moments become almost boring predictability. The overpowering sense of impending doom builds nicely, but fizzles out like a flat beer as the film reaches its climax, and an unnerving sense of déjà vu takes over.
Saying that though, Specs (Whannel) and Tucker (Sampson) continue to deliver just the right amount of comedy, and this helps deter from the scary stuff for those who simply cannot take anymore (ask my wife!) , and Wilson delivers a performance to match his portrayal of Ed Warren in The Conjuring. Byrne also delivers a pitch perfect performance as Renai, and the rest of the cast all appear to be loving every minute.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is not a terrible film, but it simply doesn’t come close to the power of the first, stunning horror that pretty much raised the bar on haunted house horrors. Feeling let down by the sequel is an upsetting observation to admit, but I was really hoping for a lot more from this. It feels like Wan put all his efforts into The Conjuring, and simply made Insidious: Chapter 2 because he was asked to. It is not often that I say this, but I honestly feel that Insidious should have stayed as just the one film with no sequel, and that way it wouldn’t have had its reputation damaged somewhat by a weak, over thought sequel lacking in ideas and originality.
The DVD comes packed with extras from behind the scenes to make-up FX and interviews with paranormal investigators.
Including: Peripheral Vision: Behind The Scenes, Ghostly Transformation, Leigh Whannell’s Insidious Journal, The Haunting Of Insidious, Work In Progress: On Set Q&A, 3 x Spectral Sightings Webisodes.