Earlier this summer, director James Wan brought us The Conjuring, one of the best horror films of the year. Not only can Wan successfully implement jump scares at random points in his movies, but he is also a master of building suspense. His long camera shots and use of ominous noises and visuals leave you clinging to your chair as you are vulnerable and waiting for a scare that you know is coming…just when you least expect it. Now, Wan has brought us the sequel to his breakthrough film, 2011′s Insidious and with this Chapter 2, Wan has delivered a story scarier, more clever and a lot of fun.
Insidious Chapter 2 takes place right after the events of Insidious. The Lambert family is being questioned for the death of Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) is struggling to cope with what she has seen. After her husband, Josh (Patrick Wilson), returned from the Spirit World, the spirit of an elderly Victorian woman followed him back and entered into his body. Renai is worried about this, but is also worried about the safety of her son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), who has likewise just returned from the Spirit World. Upon moving into the house that Josh grew up in, his mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) begins to notice strange anomalies occurring, just as they did when Josh was a child.
In his youth, Josh had been “gifted” with the ability to enter the Spirit World when he went to sleep. Everything was fine, until a Spirit noticed him and became attached to him. In flashback scenes, his mother (Jocelin Donahue) enlisted the help of Carl (Hank Harris) and Elise (Lindsay Seim) to help Josh. When Elise realizes that she can’t save Josh, she hypnotizes him so that he can forget that part of his past. Now, in the present day, Dalton is just like his father and poses a threat to the spirit within Josh’s body. On top of that, Carl (Steve Coulter) is again recruited by Loraine to investigate the house and help ward off the evil Spirits. Essentially, the film follows the paths of Josh, Dalton, Carl and Loraine as they are all fighting for their lives and trying to uncover a terrible secret.
What I loved about this film was the fact that it builds on to the Insidious “mythology” and links quite a few things from the first movie to the second. As these connections are made, certain truths are revealed and you will notice something that you might have shrugged off in the first film. I thought that it was a smart idea and very fun to watch it all unfold. Insidious Chapter 2 works so well because it is a smarter horror story. Not only did it freak me out and make me even shout a profanity (…sorry), the film held my attention intellectually. James Wan does a wonderful job of weaving things in-and-out of the story and his approach always helps move the story along!
The story and some of the themes in this film did feel a bit familiar, however. A few scenes reminded me an awful lot of The Shining, especially when Patrick Wilson gets this devious smile and tries to break his way through a door. Some of the subplots in the film go unexplained and leave you wondering why they are there in the first place. At times, it becomes quite easy to acknowledge that the movie is scary and really creepy, but to also wonder why these subplots exist in the first place. Rather than glossing over little details here and there, had they been explained or gone into with more depth, Insidious Chapter 2 would have been a much better film all around.
That being said, for a horror sequel, this film is quite good. Typically, sequels to most movies, horror or otherwise, are not better than the original and are often made so that the studios can make an extra buck-or-two. Not only did James Wan create a good sequel, but I think that this film is better than the first. I felt way more immersed and interested in the story this time around and I must commend James Wan for delivering two good horror movies in one year. That’s not an easy feat, but he pulled it off and I am glad he did. He is becoming one of the better filmmakers in the industry and I cannot wait to see more from him!
The way Wan incorporates loud noises and creepy visuals here is nothing short of amazing. He has control of your emotions while you are in the theater and takes you on a very creepy ride! Patrick Wilson offers up another awesome performance, but he is almost overshadowed by two Spirit talkers who add some much needed humor to the film. The bottom line is, this is a film that you are going to enjoy, but the intense visuals and music are going to follow you to your dreams. Well, that was my experience at least. Regardless, if you’re looking for a smart scare, Insidious Chapter 2 is the perfect movie to go see on this, or any, Friday the 13th!.
Insidious Chapter 2 Trailer