06th Sep2013

‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Andrew Astor | Written by Leigh Whannell | Directed by James Wan


Having watched what I guess we should now refer to as ‘Chapter 1’ prior to the screening of the Insidious sequel, I can confirm that as a franchise it’s not quite as edgy and gritty as its promotion would have you believe. There’s something quite hokey, kooky and actually quite endearing about the Insidious films which I don’t consider to be a bad thing. When your film’s knight in shining armour character is a kindly old lady, what more could you reasonably expect?

Despite the three year gap since the release of its predecessor, Insidious: Chapter 2 takes place very shortly after it chronologically. After the events of the first film, which saw Patrick Wilson travelling into a spirit realm to search for the soul of his comatose son (Ty Simpkins, who was also the kid in Iron Man 3) before nasty demons possessed his body (hell of a subordinate clause there), the Lambert family retreat to Pat’s mom (Barbara Hershey)’s house to recover from their ordeal. Unfortunately, Papa Patrick doesn’t seem quite the same after his experience and spooky crap keeps on happening. Can his wife (Rose Byrne, great as ever), mother, sons, a mysterious figure from his past (Steve Coulter) and those two funny ghostbusters from the previous film (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson) figure out what’s going on in time to sort it all out?

What spooks and scares Insidious 2 has to offer generally come in the first half. There’s good use of a noisy children’s toy, a piano and the old ‘mysterious figure in shot for a second but then isn’t’ trick is done well too. However by the midway point, returning director James Wan gives up on slow-building tension and pretty much goes for a voyage into slightly silly fantasy, almost like a Scooby Doo ‘let’s split up and search for clues’ scenario crossed with The Twilight Zone. Which I enjoyed.

What’s quite pleasing is that Insidious: Chapter 2 throws a whole lot of different ideas into the mix and manages to come out not being a total mess. So you’ve got an interesting time-hopping narrative structure, some gender-bending intrigue, paedophobic elements, a dash of found footage, a sort of unsolved murder case plotline, a bit of offbeat comedy and a number of call-backs to the previous film (in an almost Back to the Future Part 2 sense) as well as some Paranormal Activity style jumps (as you might expect from producer Oren Peli). It’s nice to see a film that isn’t afraid to dabble with different bits and pieces and it’s a credit to Wan that’s mostly fairly coherent.

It’s encouraging too that the original cast has also returned for the sequel. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson may not exactly be total A-listers, but their stock has only risen since the first film, so it’s nice that they’ve come back. Or at least fulfilled a contractual obligation in any case. The coda at the end of Insidious: Chapter 2 pretty much guarantees a third outing, though whether the two main leads will feature in that is open to debate.

Insidious: Chapter 2 stands out from most mainstream horror films in that it isn’t mean-spirited. It isn’t unnecessarily cruel to its cast and the reintroduction of one character in particular is actually quite joyful. It gives the whole cast plenty to do and doesn’t treat the audience like idiots. Sure, the scares may not last all the way through the film, but as I came out of the auditorium feeling generally positive and satisfied, I was able to forgive this.

Insidious: Chapter 2 hits UK cinemas on Friday 13th September.

One Response to “‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ Review”

  • I loved this movie. Loved it, loved it, loved it. James Wan is one of the best directors of recent times and he makes his stand by offering two awesome horror movies this year. I personally preferred Insidious 2 though, as I appreciated the rich character development and the concept of the Further. There are clear references to The Shining and Psycho but this movie leaves its own mark of disturbing. Of course it’s always great to add some light humor in between to dilute the scares (as they REALLY packed a punch in this second installment). So if you’re kind of doubting the movie based on its bad rep, don’t listen to the negative comments/reviews as this is easily one of the best movies this year. Everyone did a phenomenal job and the end product turned out a lot more satisfying than I expected.