With all of the hype surrounding Insidious Chapter 2, I tried to avoid most of it, not wanting to spoil the film for myself. I am a huge fan of writer/ actor Leigh Whannell and director James Wan, from their original concept for the first Saw film to Death Sentence and of course the first Insidious film. With now two major horror film franchises under their belts, it was no surprise that there were multiple screenings set up at the theater I attended for its September 13th release.
The film picks up right where the first film left off- dealing with what happened in the house, moments after Josh (Patrick Wilson) had returned from “The Further” with their son. However, Elise (Lin Shay), their medium, had been killed, and its being investigated who or what exactly ended her life. Renai (Rose Byrne), moves their family to Josh’s mother’s (Barbara Hershey) house for safekeeping, but within the first night, the hauntings begin again.
We are given flashbacks to show that the spirits that haunt the Lambert family are attached to Josh specifically, and have been doing so since he was a child. This also serves as showing the audience the relationship between the medium and the Lambert family, showing a much younger Elise attempting to protect Josh and his mother (the younger version played by Jocelin Donahue from House of the Devil). Moments begin to tie together, and we start seeing that something is completely wrong with the modern day Josh- as if he’s possessed! As the film barrels on, the “old woman” from the first film returns in many ways- some extremely disturbing, and a Pyscho-esque plot line comes into play with how the “old woman” became the gross entity we have become accustomed to.
This film embraces the stereotypical horror cliches and moves forward without abandon, holding homages and references from films like The Amityville Horror, Psycho, and even Back to the Future. Moments that scared the audience in the first film are revealed to have a legitimate explanation in this film- for example, a moment in the first film where the “Lipstick faced demon” attempts to take the baby from the crib and Renai goes to save the baby while Josh attends to the pounding on the front door, which is then broken open, causing the alarm to go off. That turns out to be modern day Josh, trapped in “The Further”, attempting to reach out to his family and make them aware of his presence. See? Not so scary after all! The film is littered with moments like this, causing one to really think two films were planned for this storyline from the get go, as well as the fact that the film holds echoes of Marty McFly seeing himself playing Johnny B. Good onstage during the second Back to the Future Film.
While the film had an extremely strong storyline, the script had some moments that lacked. With Elise’s death happening in the moments before the film started, her two compatriots, Tucker and Specks (played by Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell, respectively) are left to take up her ghost-hunting mantle. Their comedic relief moments seem like they were pulled from another film, and while occasionally funny, they tend to take the viewer out of the tense and spooky moment- causing to overall tone of the film to suffer.
Overall, this film was an excellent way to start off Friday the 13th, and a great addition to the Insidious Saga! While James Wan has stated that he will not be doing a third installation, or any more horror films for that matter, he has signed on to Fast and Furious 7, so here’s to hoping that it can hold a candle to rest of his films!