Insidious: Chapter 2 Review
2013 has been a rich year for horror films and I am happy to report another good one to catch this Halloween season. "Insidious: Chapter 2" is a fitting follow-up to 2011's "Insidious." Its a sequel that doesn't necessarily tread water and it also doesn't abandon the first film's premise. This movie feels like a true sequel to the film that hit theaters in 2011. Fans of the first film are going to have another chilly, trippy, creepy, spooky good time with this sequel, that is definitely something to look forward to.
"Insidious: Chapter 2" begins in 1986, when a young Elise Rainier (Lindsey Seim) visits a young Josh Lambert (Garrett Ryan). Apparently, the spirit world tried to contact Josh when he was very young, it wasn't something that just suddenly came when he was an adult. Seems Elise tried to block the spirit world, she tried to get Josh to forget he could astral project. Whatever those spirits wanted with Josh, they never got them. Its a moody, creepy opening and it begins the film on a high note. Then we go right into another chilling opening credits scene, something that will feel very reminiscent of the first film.
After the opening credit scene is done, we see Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) being interrogated by police about the ending to the first film. The police aren't buying that a ghost killed Elise in the first film, and that Josh (now Patrick Wilson) is a prime suspect for Elise's murder. Josh and Renai go home though, and then very creepy things start happening to everyone in the house. One thing I think horror fans will respond to right away is the fast pacing. There is barely a time to relax, barely a time to recollect yourself. There is always something going on that will terrify you. The moodiness and tense atmosphere from the first film is back with an iron hand and it will scare you.
Another thing that works to benefit the film is the story. There is a very grisly story revolving around the spirits who possess the family. Crazy-evil parents forcing their child to do something incredibly sad? Scary. No pun intended but there really is something truly insidious buried in the film's story. This isn't exactly the same story from the first film spewed out once again, but in the same vein of the first film. Couple this with the cunning direction by James Wan and the beyond startling soundtrack by Joseph Bishara, and you've got something truly shocking.
I am glad that Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, Barbara Hershey and Lin Shaye return to play Renai, Josh, Mrs. Lambert, and Elise respectively. They are all great in their roles and really make the movie come to life. Patrick Wilson in particular steals the show. He plays the happy and innocent father in the first half but when its time for Wilson to turn on the creep, he does so with flying colors. Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson return as Specs and Tucker and they deliver tiny pieces of humor throughout the film. The script is written beautifully where the humor never overpowers the horror. The end of the film hints at other adventures with Specs and Tucker and if those characters got their own spin-off film? Holy cow, I'd be on-board. Both actors are very funny and engaging throughout and deserve credit for their work.
The thing that bothered me is that this film seemed to rely more on slick camera pictures and some special effects over mood and atmosphere. What made "Insidious" in 2011 so good was how little special effects were used. Some of the best horror movies ever made barely had any CGI in them at all, just complete horror and maybe some good make-up. The make-up in "Insidious" makes me jump every time. I wish there was more of that in this sequel. The slickness of the cinematography is very good, I just feel it overwhelms the picture at some points and makes the adventure much less scary. Does it derail the movie? No. But it was definitely a distraction.
Overall, if you want something to check out this horror holiday, check out "Insidious: Chapter 2," this is a precise follow-up. I hope if they can figure out stories that keep the terror coming in this series, I'd say make more. I am willing to see wherever this series chooses to go. Right now, its off to a great start. In a genre that usually fumbles its sequels, that is a highly compliment.
FINAL GRADE: B+