Insidious Chapter Two Review

Posted: September 18, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

insidious2poster_largeWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

This year gave us a tale of two Wan films. First up was this summer’s The Conjuring, a period ghost film based on allegedly true accounts which was a big hit critically and financially. Now, we have Insidious Chapter 2, the sequel to James Wan’s 2011 ghost film Insidious, which is proving to be just as successful financially, but isn’t getting the critical praise of either the first film or The Conjuring. I know at the beginning of the year, I expected The Conjuring to be the better Wan film and Insidious Chapter 2 to be a shameless sequel attempt. Yet I found myself surprisingly disappointed with The Conjuring this summer, but what is even more surprising is how much enjoyed Insidious Chapter Two.

After an intriguing prologue, the film picks up almost immediately after the events of the original Insidious. As authorities investigate his home, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) moves his family into his mother’s (Barbara Hershey) home. However shortly after they arrive, Josh’s wife Renai (Rose Byrne) notices strange, unexplainable occurrences and quickly realizes their haunting is not over. Josh insists that it is nothing and they should just be grateful their family is safe, but Renai suspects something else is going on. What follows is a series of spooky encounters and more adventures in the spirit realm known as “The Further”.

As I said in my review for The Conjuring, James Wan is a master of making effective horror films and he continues that trend here. Wan consistently constructs a lot of really good scares and horror set-pieces. The difference is that while The Conjuring took a more subtle approach Insidious Chapter 2 goes big with its scares, a risky move but one that pays off. It’s very much like going through a haunted house, which could be a criticism were the execution not as good as it is. The movie also doesn’t waste any time plunging into the horror. Within the first few minutes the scares start coming and the feel of menace lasts throughout. What’s also impressive is that Wan manages to keep the film’s intensity level high. The film is also shot well, there are some good make-up effects, and I still really like the look of “The Further”.

Of course, I expected the filmmaking to be good. In fact I’ve come to expect James Wan films to be well-directed but with lacking scripts and my main fear with this film would be with the story. This isn’t the case at all. Insidious Chapter Two expands on the story and characters and fleshes out the mythology in a really interesting way. The plot goes to places I didn’t expect and while I’m sure none of this was planned when the first Insidious came out, the twists they add work well with the first film. In addition, while I know at least one more Insidious sequel is on the way, the film does pretty definitively end the Lamberts story in a way I like. However I should mention that the actual note that the film ends on, which sets up the tone sequels will likely take, didn’t really excite me especially knowing James Wan won’t be returning.

Most of the acting is pretty standard, but there are a few noteworthy performances. Patrick Wilson stands out as the father. I remember him being fine in the first one, but he has a lot more to do here and he looks to be having a lot of fun with it. Unfortunately, the only reason any other performances stand out is because they’re bad. Angus Sampson and screenwriter Leigh Whannel return as the bumbling comedic duo that not only don’t fit with the tone of the film but are straight-up annoying too. Even worse is Lin Shaye as ghost expert Elise. She was in the first one as well and I seem to remember her being fine, but her work here is really hammy and she’s also at the center of some of the film’s goofier moments.

Insidious Chapter 2 might actually be more flawed than The Conjuring, but it also has a lot more personality and originality. It’s well-made, the story is interesting, and Patrick Wilson gives a fun performance. It does have its problems and is in general not as consistent as its predecessor, but it also improves on certain issues I had with the first Insidious. It’s haunted house aesthetic may be seen as cheap fun, but the key word is fun, and I had a lot with Insidious Chapter 2.

B

Comments
  1. le0pard13 says:

    I am curious about this, even though I enjoy The Conjuring more than Insidious. Thanks, Daniel.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Dan. The first movie was okay, but this one sort of felt like a cheap sequel, only made for the money. And although Wan does take some creative liberties with the story here and there, it wasn’t enough to really have me feel like I was watching something better than its predecessor.

  3. I have to say that I was slightly disappointed with both “Insidious” and “The Conjuring.” The first “Insidious” was pretty clumsy at times in its editing. This probably didn’t register for a lot of people. I will admit that there were some amazing moments with memorable and iconic images, what could have been a creepy ending played like a silly joke. My problem with “The Conjuring” is simply that there is nothing in the film that I haven’t already seen before in better films. I respect the opinions of those who enjoyed it, but I was less then impressed (even though this film also had some amazing images in it). I have not yet seen Insidious 2, but I plan to. I wonder if James Wan isn’t simply a victim of the times. He is making his movies at a time in history that is geared towards adolescents with short attention spans. He obviously has enormous talent, but the reality of the industry probably stifles it a bit.

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