Director: James Wan Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne & Barbara Hershey Synopsis: “The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world.” Runtime: 106 minutes
“In my line of work things tend to happen when it gets dark”
The first Insidious film was an unexpected pleasure for me and provided me with some genuine scares and white knuckle moments. As such, my expectations for Insidious: Chapter 2 were naturally higher. Luckily the second film to follow the haunted Lambert family is quite good, and despite an ending that carries on a bit too long, the overall effect is of a another good ghost story concocted by a director who knows the genre inside out.
We start off where the last film ended, with the Lambert family trying to rebuild their lives following the events of the first film. Only not everything is at it seems. Head of the family, Josh (Wilson) is a changed man, and despite protests from his wife, Renai (Byrne), he is convinced that nothing at all is wrong with his family or the various homes they locate throughout the film. While Josh is clearly hiding something, it is up to Renai to try to figure out what that something is.
As Renai searches for answers she brings back several characters from the first film to aid her efforts, including paranormal investigators Specs & Tucker and Josh’s mother Lorraine Lambert (Hershey), as well as new character, retired investigator Carl (Steve Coulter). It’s fun to see Specs & Tucker return, as they stumble around houses, clearly afraid of everything their job entails and occasionally making the odd joke to try to lighten the mood. Coulter makes an impression as the retired paranormal investigator, who once saw something so terrifying, he refused to ever return to the field, until now that is.
As the story develops, we move from the real world and into The Further, a world alluded to in the first film but advanced further in this one. This is a nice touch, as it allows the story to develop, which isn’t always the case with horror films as the story usually just exists to get us from one scare to another. There is also a nice linking together of both films as we enter The Further, which allows for some nice tricks to be played upon the audience as we see the events of the first film from another perspective.
One element where Insidious: Chapter 2 does tend to agitate though, and this is common in many horror films, is the stupidity of the characters, as some decisions beggar belief, and certain twists are ill thought out. However, Insidious 2 does feature some genuine scares along the way, which make for a more adult orientated version of Poltergeist that I’m sure many people will enjoy.
Whilst I didn’t find myself enjoying this film as much as I did with its predecessor, I was still highly entertained by the movie, and James Wan must go down as one of my favourite genre directors of the modern era. Although I do understand his move away from horror and into mainstream blockbusters with next years Fast & Furious 7, I do hope he will one day return to the genre where he made his name and maybe provide us with one more great horror film.
In Summary: While Insidious: Chapter 2 never gets near the quality of Wan’s previous effort this year, The Conjuring, Insidious: Chapter 2 is still an admirable movie which complements the original, even if it doesn’t quite improve on it. Whoever takes the hot seat for the third installment will have a difficult job indeed.