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Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

September 15, 2013

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Insidious wasn’t the best horror of all time, but it definitely made an impression upon its release. With a budget of only $1.5 million, it made a staggering gross of nearly $100 million. Therefore, it’s no wonder why studio execs felt the need to try to strike oil from the same spout again. No matter how diluted that liquid gold may be, it’s still a safe investment as with almost any horror film released on Friday the 13th would be. Insidious told the story of Dalton, a boy who could astral project while dreaming and mistakenly finds himself in the realm of the dead where tortured souls starved for life fight for the chance to inhabit his living body. The struggle leaves him stranded in “the Further” resulting in his father, Josh (Patrick Wilson), having to visit the realm to get his son back.

Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up a day after the events in the first film as Josh’s wife Renai (Rose Bryne) attempts to deal with the family’s struggle to accept what just happened and the strange feeling that something is amiss with Josh. The Lambert family soon realize the dead isn’t finished with them and stranger occurrences leaves the family no choice but to seek help from the recently murdered clairvoyant detective Elaine’s colleagues. Together they begin to uncover dark secrets about the ghost that has followed Josh since childhood and visit multiple realms of the afterlife to get the answers and solutions they need.

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Insidious: Chapter 2 doesn’t hold a flame to the intense creepiness of its original, but it definitely shines, or at least emits a dull glimmer, as something differently innovative and gracious to its predecessors of the genre. Director James Wan constantly reminds us why his talents deserve praise of slight fan-boyish proportions despite the material of Insidious: Chapter 2 lacking strongly. After still riding the high of Wan’s last triumph The Conjuring I was pretty excited for Insidious: Chapter 2 despite my qualms with sequels. Wan’s visual style only gets better as he hones in his craft with each film. His poetic fluidity of movement through scenes is becoming synonymous with his name.

The  cinematography of Insidious: Chapter 2 drips in alluring, moody colors and extravagantly lit scenes. Each scene is ominously lit with source lighting that’s intricately placed to allow for glum, tense moments. A red stained glass window in Josh’s childhood home sheds a brooding shade of fear on each character that incidentally steps into its light. The lantern used to light the voyage through “the Further” creates the cold, open feeling of being in the realm of the dead and lamps around the house are effectively used when necessary to keep scenes bright enough to see the action, but dark enough to entice fear.

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Now, while all the right elements are present, they sadly miss hitting the mark of being executed well enough to actually entice fear the way Wan has done in previous films. Insidious: Chapter 2 has a minuscule amount of actual chilling moments with most of the film meandering on with anti-climatic, predictable scares. In The Conjuring, Wan chose to play on audience expectation by heightening our senses and presenting predictable horror movie tropes only to break them instead delivering freighting, unexpected scares. Insidious: Chapter 2 seems to forget how to set up scares, instead delivering stale, rehashed tropes beaten over and over again throughout decades of horror.

Insidious‘ greatest folly was its lack of explaining the situation the characters found themselves in. Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up that slack, for better or worse, and fills in all the blanks from the first film. In fact, it impressively takes the story to places where horror films rarely visit and adds a new layer of complexity to “the Further.” Not only can ghosts inhabit present time, but they can also visit moments of the past giving clout to the traveling ability of The Ghost of Christmas Past from A Christmas Carol. Josh is able to visit and effect the past as he travels “the Further” leading to moments of coagulation between the original film and even scenes from early on Chapter 2. Nevertheless, playing with time and space brings forth a slew of unanswered questions all on its own that are never explained, like a ghastly murderess’ ability to see certain characters.

Insidious Chapter 2 ultimately suffers from a subparly written convoluted story that is just too complex to make sense. Too many ideas are touched on but never explained because there are too many unnecessary elements happening at once. Insidious: Chapter 2 becomes a nod to The Shining, Psycho, and at times Mommy Dearest which is kind of cool, but mostly laughable. Yet, I still enjoyed Insidious: Chapter 2. While its definitely gum on the shoes of  Insidious and untouchable to The Conjuring, it’s style and narrative are endearing. It’s like Back to the Future Part 2 in how it chooses to tell its story and present its sequence of events. I pray there’s not a 3rd one to ruin the story anymore than a sequel already has, but if there were one I’m almost ashamed to admit I’ll definitely be front and center to see where the Blumhouse team takes the story next.

TOSS UP.  While it’s definitely an unneeded sequel it’s not a terrible one. It loses focus, but is quite entertaining .

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alethia permalink
    October 24, 2013 8:00 PM

    Love the review tho I will admit to you that I punked out 3/4 through the first one. Blood and guts I can handle but allot the shrouded, shadowy figured, lurking creepy ghosts hit just the right note to freak me out lol

  2. December 14, 2013 4:46 AM

    I loved this movie. Loved it, loved it, loved it. James Wan is one of the best directors of recent times and he makes his stand by offering two awesome horror movies this year. I personally preferred Insidious 2 though, as I appreciated the rich character development and the concept of the Further. There are clear references to The Shining and Psycho but this movie leaves its own mark of disturbing. Of course it’s always great to add some light humor in between to dilute the scares (as they REALLY packed a punch in this second installment). So if you’re kind of doubting the movie based on its bad rep, don’t listen to the negative comments/reviews as this is easily one of the best movies this year. Everyone did a phenomenal job and the end product turned out a lot more satisfying than I expected.

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