Theatrical Review: Insidious: Chapter 2

In the movie Insidious, the Lambert family is terrorized by spirits in another dimension called The Further. Josh and Renai Lambert’s son, Dalton suffers an accident that puts him into a coma and turns him into a bizarre conduit with this world. Josh’s mother, brings in her old friend Elise, a medium, and her assistants, Specs and Tucker, to help the family find the answers that they need and in the process they also discover that Josh has the same gifts as his son. By the end, Josh has made his own journey into The Further to bring back his son, but with a great cost, as Elise is murdered by the spirits in the real world.

Insidious: Chapter 2 takes place almost immediately after the events of the first film. We start with a flashback to Josh’s childhood and soon discover that he had a greater connection to the Further than what was revealed in the first movie. A younger Elise hypnotizes Josh into forgetting about this chapter in his life, but due to the events of the first movie, Josh’s own connection has now opened back up. Back in the present day, Elise’s murder is being investigated by the authorities with Josh being seen as a prime suspect. The Lambert family vacates their home to go stay with Josh’s mother and soon Josh is cleared of being a suspect. With this greater connection now being opened up more, the family soon finds out that their terror is far from over.

That’s the base premise to Insidious: Chapter 2 and without a doubt, you will need to have seen the first movie in order to keep up with what’s going on with the second. Insidious: Chapter 2 comes to us from director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell who are no strangers to the horror genre having given us both the first Insidious as well as the first of the Saw movies. This is Wan’s second horror movie for the year, with his first being The Conjuring, which at least to me, is also one of the best movies of the year. I had a pretty good time with Insidious: Chapter 2 though not in the same league as The Conjuring.

One of the criticisms that I saw with the first movie was the whole idea of The Further and if you had any sort of problems with that, then this sequel may not fly to far with you as it’s firmly centered around The Further for the whole movie. For me, this other dimension brings to mind Don Coscarelli’s classic Phantasm series and I very much like how this went further in-depth with the concept especially using it well to find out the origins of the spirit that possesses Josh, a mysterious serial killer called The Bride in Black. By it’s end, they’ve now set up this series so that the world of The Further takes the front seat for any future films and of course the possibility of another sequel certainly exists.

Insidious: Chapter 2 movies at a pretty brisk pace that I think works especially well by the film’s end as it’s jumping between both the real world and The Further. It’s scares are mostly of the jump variety that are punctuated by the film’s score (terrific work from composer Joseph Bishara who also worked with Wan on The Conjuring). Where the film really excels for me though is just in it’s presentation of these new spirits and the very over-the-top way in which they are presented. For some, this might seem a little too cartoonish, but I like the fact that Wan and Whannell went that far especially with a character who’s the mother of the spirit that possesses Josh Lambert (played by actress Danielle Bisutti). I think it goes a little too far with the humor provided by the characters of Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) with just a few of the jokes seeming a little out of place, but it’s not a dealbreaker by any means.

Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, and Barbara Hershey all return from the first movie along with the above-mention Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson and for the most part, it’s a good turn by the cast. I mentioned in my review of The Conjuring that Patrick Wilson is one of my favorite actors to watch at work these days and he doesn’t disappoint in the slightest here, especially after his character of Josh is possessed. Wilson really turns on the crazy at that point and for me anyway brought to mind Jack Nicholson’s work in The Shining. New to this cast is veteran character actor Steve Coulter who plays Carl, another associate of Elise’s and Tom Fitzpatrick who plays The Bride in Black. Good work from both actors, but big props to Fitzpatrick and just how far he was willing to go in his portrayal of The Bride.

Insidious: Chapter 2 was a lot of fun that for me was only slightly spoiled by a… let’s say “rambunctious” audience of kids who were happy to get into a horror movie that’s rated PG-13. It’s an absolute necessity to have seen the first film in order to appreciate what goes on here, but if you’re a die-hard fan of the first (and there’s many out there) then you’ll no doubt have a good time with Insidious: Chapter 2.

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

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