Sunday, 15 September 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013): Review

Insidious: Chapter 2 is a 2013 supernatural horror sequel to 2011's Insidious. Directed by James Wan (Insidious, Saw) and written by Leigh Whannell (Saw 1,2 & 3) the film stars Patrick Wilson (Insidious, The Conjuring), Rose Byrne (Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later) and Lin Shaye (Nightmare on Elm Street, Kingpin). The film was delayed in order to be released on Friday the 13th.

Insidious: Chapter 2 follows the continued misfortunes of the Lambert family. After the events of the first film Josh (Wilson) finds himself the prime suspect in the murder of psychic medium Elise (Shaye) with his wife Renai (Byrne) suffering somewhat of a mental breakdown due to yet more paranormal activity in the household. To make matters worse, Josh appears to be possessed by his childhood phantom (the veiled hag from the first film) and it falls to paranormal investigation team Specs (Whannell) and Tucker, along with new psychic medium on the block Carl, to unravel the mystery behind the excessive haunting of the Lamberts.

The highlight of any James Wan movie is the expert direction, usually combined with jolting classical score, and this remains top notch just as it did in the original film and the more recent The Conjuring (2013) with Wan demonstrating his aptitude for vintage horror scares. Along with the slick aesthetics there is some pretty clever retconning in place in order for Wan & Whannell to write themselves out of the pretty firm corner we were left in at the end of the first film. This includes Josh and Carl time travelling through the chronology of the franchise, via "the further", in an attempt to discover more about the antagonist. I thought this was pretty neat and was the same kind of idea put to good use in the underrated Paranormal Activity 2 (2010).

Unfortunately, cleverness is in extremely short supply in this movie and there are just as many moments that come off as silly and hokey with a particularly shoddy script in places. I found it very difficult to engage with the film due to the two very disparate plots that were going on at the same time, the Lamberts being haunted and the paranormal investigation team doing their best Scooby Doo impression. Although the comedy antics of Specs & Tucker often fell flat and grated, I feel that the film would have been much more cohesive if it had been treated purely as a spin off focusing on that single plot line. The performances of Wilson and Byrne, that were fairly solid in the first film, are easily the weakest part of this sequel with Wilson channelling Jack Torrence in an ill advised turn as a possessed madman and Byrne similarly drawing upon the hysterical tones of Wendy Torrence in that same film.

If the first Insidious was a knowing horror cliche mashup then Insidious: Chapter 2 is an exercise in throwing as many ideas at the screen and seeing what sticks. Veering into hokey cliche much more than the first without the same suspenseful atmosphere and simplicity of a good old fashioned haunted house movie. Wan shows little of the freshness and restraint displayed in Insidious or the excellent The Conjuring. Some have applauded the film for it's ambition but I feel without the right execution you have to put this installment into the, admittedly very large, camp of disappointing horror sequels.

*** 3 Stars

What did you of the film? How does it compare to the original?

1 comment:

  1. I didn't get scared all that much, but I did laugh a whole hell of a lot. Pretty sure that wasn't the intention either. Good review Ashley.