Insidious: Chapter 2 is an American horror film, released in 2013 and directed by James Wan. It is a direct sequel to the 2010 movie Insidious which was generally (including on GBHBL) well received by critics and viewers. While thankfully bucking the current horror trend and being a sequel, rather than a prequel, it is quite common for sequels and prequels to pale in comparison to their origin. Can Insidious: Chapter 2 succeed where others fail and continue to scare?
Insidious: Chapter 2 sees Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne reprising their roles as Josh and Renai Lambert, a husband and wife who seek to uncover the secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world. The film carries directly on from the first, which caused a little confusion at first as it has been years since watching the first movie, where the father, Josh, has saved his son from the ghost plain known as The Further. The first film ends with us finding out Josh may be possessed. The second film continues from this with us soon finding out that Josh definitely didn’t actually make it out of The Further and his body is now inhabited by another spirit.
The film spends a little time showing the real Josh trapped in the ghost realm but trying to get his family’s attention to warn them of the intruder results only in him terrifying his whole family. It also dedicates a little time to filling in the back story of the family and the mediums attempting to help them and, while following the mediums, we find out the back story of the main “veiled ghost lady” from both movies along with information around who now inhabits Josh’ body. All this information is gladly received as it adds real depth to the story, which was something I felt was lacking a little in the first.
Throughout the course of the film Renai’s mother in law, played by Barbara Hershey, and Carl, a medium brought in to help after the death of Elise, the lady killed by a possessed Josh, dig into the strange goings on at the house and soon confirm that Josh isn’t Josh. More importantly they find out that Josh may actually be possessed by a serial killer known as “The Bride in Black”. Also, less interestingly, known as Parker Crane, played by Tom Fitzpatrick.
We also find out that Parker Crane’s mother is the veiled ghost, seen patrolling the early stages of the film and get a nice flashback as to the abuse Parker suffered at the hands of his mother while a child.
And so the film plot continues with the real Josh trying to find his way out of the ghost realm, the medium, Carl and two bumbling camera men trying to both find Josh and help Renai, Renai trying to get her kids away from fake Josh and fake Josh, once he realises he has been found out, trying to keep his newly acquired body by killing anyone who suspects him.
While the plot of this movie sounds pretty straightforward, it can seem a little odd at times as rather than being one large story being told, it often feels like a few separate tales that we switch back and forward between. Despite that though there is plenty that interested me. I like the “astral projection” theme that runs throughout and, now that The Further has been expanded upon, I am excited to see its potential as a story foundation used in future films, like the almost guaranteed Insidious: Chapter 3.
I guess what matters most in a horror film is a well told story and scares and in those regards the film is a relative success. There is a nice feeling of dread/suspense in most sections of the film and plenty of your typical, but done well, jump scares dotted around. None of them feel too corny though and a clever use of camera angles, carrying on from his good work in The Conjuring, along with some wonderfully atmospheric music and sound add a lot of depth to the movie. The story is also well told and the actors do a decent job of being believable while the location along with sound is suitably eerie.
My biggest gripe, and it is a big one, with this film is Specs (Leigh Wannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) who worked with Elise and now with Carl in investigating the goings on. They are mainly used in the film as a little light relief which, in a film trying to build an atmosphere of dread and fear is really not needed. An example of their antics would be when trying to save Carl from the possessed Josh, Specs run into the house like a hero and within a second is knocked out. Tucker comes running in and gets sedated with his own syringe before landing on top of the just waking up Specs. These sort of silly scenes were not needed in my opinion and broke up a lot of the tension taking away from the scariness. I felt that it would have been a better horror without them in it.
Despite that grievance though I did enjoy the film for the most part but think I would have enjoyed it more if I watched both Insidious movies back to back. The film ends with a strong hint of a third but thankfully seems to be moving to a new family so this chapter should now be complete.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is a decent story, with an interesting world, in The Further, that is full of potential. Plenty of little scares but no real feeling of overall horror mainly due to the comic relief of Specs and Tucker. If you have seen the first movie, you should watch this just to make sense of everything you saw before and you will probably enjoy it. If you haven’t seen the first, I strongly suggest you steer clear of this until you have and for maximum understanding, try and watch them close together.
Insidious: Chapter 2