Insidious: Chapter Two Review
Posted by Joseph Lee on 09.16.2013
2013 is the year of Wan.
*Patrick Wilson as Josh
*Rose Byrne as Renai
*Barbara Hershey as Lorraine
*Ty Simpkins as Dalton
*Andrew Astor as Foster
*Lin Shaye as Elise Reiner
*Leigh Whannell as Specs
*Angus Sampson as Tucker
Story: The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world.
Trivia: This is James Wan's second horror film of the year, after the release of The Conjuring in July.
When Insidious came out in 2011, it surprised a lot of people. It was very "old school" in its approach to horror, taking its cues from movies like The Changeling or Poltergeist to craft an intense and scary horror movie. It was very refreshing. Now this year, Wan has already released The Conjuring, which could end up being the best horror film of this year, if not the past five years. It's certainly Wan's best film to date.
Coming on the heels of that is the sequel to the 2011 film is Insidious: Chapter 2, and the law of diminishing returns is in effect. That's not to say that Insidious Chapter II is a bad movie. It's good and can be almost as effective as the original, but suffers from some problems that does hurt it some. While it's flawed and not as good as the first film, James Wan's stellar track record continues.
After a flashback to events before the original story, we pick up immediately after the first film. The Lamberts have their son back but something may or may not have followed Josh (Patrick Wilson) from The Further, which is the spirit world. Police are investigating the murder of Elise from the end of the original so the family moves into Lorraine's (Barbara Hershey) house to stay for a bit, when the haunting resumes as if nothing happened.
The fact that this picks up from the first film means it really does serve as a "second chapter". I get the feeling you could watch both of these back to back and not lose a single step. Chapter 2 is helped in that by a pace that never slows down. There is always something happening on screen, even in the quiet moments, as the threat is established earlier on and you know these characters are in danger at all times.
The film is benefited from all major players from the first film returning. The entire cast of the original, along with writer Leigh Whannel and director James Wan, have all returned to continue the story. While a sequel wasn't really necessary, they justified it enough by taking the story to new places and raising the stakes. This time there's more danger in the physical world, possibly more so than the spiritual world.
Patrick Wilson was good in the first movie, but this time he has to play dual roles at times and plays it well. He's proven over the years he's a solid actor and he's able to pull off anything this movie requires of him. The rest of the cast, it's hard to really say how they fared between the two films. As this is a continuation, all they had to do was be as good or better. I will say that Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannel were much better as the comic relief this time. Last time it felt as though they were shoehorned in, but this time it felt it was just a natural aspect of their characters.
This movie did have problems. First off all, it just isn't as scary as the last film. There are a few intense moments and the usual unsettling imagery the first film provided, but it's more focused on the mystery of the haunting this time around, which is part of the problem. The mystery was easy to solve almost immediately and while it didn't hurt the events that led to its conclusion, it did remove time that would have been better used scaring the audience. I also didn't think the person playing The Old Woman was as scary as the man playing her in the first film, but that's just my personal bias.
One other problem, which may be overlooked depending on who you are, is the dubbing in the first scene. The film is a flashback to the 1980s, when Josh first starting having problems with the spirit world. We get a younger Elise to visit him (played by Lindsay Seim). Instead of her voice, Lin Shaye's is dubbed over. It's understandable why they did it (they wanted the characters to be linked as well as possible), but it was very distracting and obvious. It's one of those moments that can take someone out of the film they're watching.
So Insidious: Chapter 2 isn't as good as the first one. Who cares? It's still a solid and thrilling sequel that fans of the original should still be able to enjoy. James Wan's career continues to flourish.
The 411: Insidious: Chapter Two may not be as scary or as well-crafted as the 2011 original, but it's still a thrilling and creepy sequel that fans of the first will enjoy. Patrick Wilson in particular needs to get special mention for pulling off the range of emotions required for his character. James Wan's star continues to shine and it will be interesting to see what he can do with an action franchise like Fast & Furious. Definitely check this one out of you're a fan of his other work.