First of all, I feel I must warn you that this review has spoilers for the first Insidious movie. It’s a bit hard to talk about the events in this film without mentioning the final moments of the first movie. For that reason, I won’t be doing a mini-review for it, as I like to keep those spoiler-free. This review, however, will not have spoilers for Insidious: Chapter 2. So as long as you’ve seen part one, you’re safe.
If you haven’t seen the original Insidious, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s directed by James Wan (who recently directed The Conjuring) and written by Leigh Whannell. They are the team behind the original Saw movie. And it’s PG-13, which is somewhat rare for a horror movie, as it lacks the typical language and gore from the more common films of the genre.
The sequel brings back the writing directing team of Whannell and Wan and, despite what major critics say, was even more fun than the original.
This is where the spoilers begin for the first Insidious. You’ve been warned!
The film picks up a day after the events of the first film, where the Lambert family has suffered through a tremendous ordeal. Josh and Renai, played by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, learned that their son’s spirit can leave his body at night, a trait he inherited from his father. With the help of Elise, played by Lin Shaye, Josh enters the spirit world to help his son make his way back to his body. At the end of Insidious, Elise suspects something else has entered Josh’s body: An old woman spirit who haunted Josh as a child. The old woman, as Josh, strangles Elise and the film ends.
Insidious: Chapter 2 isn’t all that interested in the legal ramifications of a woman being murdered in this family’s home. They essentially skip over it. There is a detective character in the beginning who suspects Josh, but the marks on Elise’s neck don’t match Josh’s hands so… that’s it. No one else is questioned or suspected after that. But that’s OK, because the film really just wants to focus on Josh-Not-Josh and the family.
Because their home is now a crime scene, they are staying at Josh’s mother’s house, which is the creepiest house of all. If I was their son Dalton, who just had this experience, I’d be begging for a hotel. Things begin to happen in this house, which understandably scares Renai, and she wants to leave until one character reminds her and us that it’s not the house that’s haunted.
This film is a bit of a jumbled mess with some parts focusing on Josh and his spirit tenant and others on Elise’s old teammates, Specs and Tucker, trying to find clues as to who killed her. One of the more distracting things in the film was their decision to have Lin Shaye dub over the voice of the actress playing the young Elise in flashbacks. Even though it’s all over the place, I thought it was fun. Even more so than the original. The writing’s a bit clunky in the beginning and there’s more humor but I thought the creepy moments were more creepy and thrills more thrilling.
Patrick Wilson is fun to watch as Josh-Not-Josh and Rose Byrne does a good job as the freaked out wife. Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson add a bit of the comic relief as Specs and Tucker respectively and Barbara Hershey is good as Josh’s mother as we learn how she’s even more connected to this story than we had previously thought.
James Wan’s directing is solid and he makes a very interesting choice to shoot a lot of the movie with wide lenses. The Conjuring is a stronger effort from Wan but Insidious: Chapter 2 has a different feel to it. While The Conjuring has a more serious tone, Insidious has a lighter tone and it’s main objective is to make you jump, laugh and overall just have a good time at the theater. Insidious: Chapter 2 is rated PG-13 but it’s definitely a bit too scary for the younger kids.
I give it a B.