Last week, before watching “Insidious: Chapter 2” I made sure I watched the first movie, which I didn’t catch in the cinema. I was very pleased with “The Conjuring” so I decided to watch both films.
While “Insidiuous” was a pretty small and straight-forward horror film about a haunted boy, “Insidious: Chapter 2” made me think of a puzzle box. Kind of like the one played by the Cenobites in the Hellraiser films. The plot branched out into two lines of narrative: the original narrative of Josh (Patrick Wilson), Renai (Rose Byrne) and their kids and a second one involving the ghost busters (screenwriter Leigh Wannell and (Angus Sampson) and Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey). This decision was effective in expanding the mythology behind the film story but for the most part it became un-wieldly, requiring too many plot devices that diminished the horrifying experience of the whole film.
Some plot devices were actually a bit annoying, like the expository dialogue between the two ghost busters, which came short of explaining to the audience what was going on in the movie. This was an obvious ploy to plug some of the plot holes in the movie. For example, in the end of the first film, didn’t Renai see the last shot in Elise’s camera? So why was she still un-sure of the fact Josh came back wrong?
This film didn’t rely too much on the jump scares that littered the first “Insidious” and this actually made this film better because the ‘slow-burn approach’ would’ve been appropriate as its plot moves faster than the first film.
Visually, this film just looked better than the first. Scenes in ‘The Further’ were more interesting because it was rendered as a dynamic combination of dreams, memories, and nightmares. There are at least a couple of memorable scary moments in this film to satisfy fans of the genre. Like when they encountered the roomful of corpses or when Renai was attacked by the female ghost.
Acting-wise, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey deserve recognition for providing the requisite gravitas and likability in their roles. The paranormal team of Wannell and Sampson try to lighten up the mood in the proceedings but there are moments when they just got in the way. Lin Shaye is adorable as the dead medium. They made the film enjoyable to watch.
As sequels go, this latest film did good in expanding the story and amplifying the horrific elements. Still scary, over-all, but it’s not “The Conjuring”. The ending, which is on the second narrative line I previously mentioned, is clearly a set-up for a third film. And if the film makers are to follow the conventions of a trilogy, the third film is a return to the elements of the original film. So there’s reason for us the audience to expect to see the lipstick-faced demon yet again.
If the first film was an homage to “Poltergeist”, then this sequel makes its aspiration obvious that it wants to be “The Shining”. Makes one wonder what horror film will be paid homage to in the third film.
My verdict? Watch it!