Saturday, September 14, 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2 : In Which We Delve Further Into The Further...

~review by Marie Robinson

You have no idea how excited for this film; my most anticipated release of this year, seconds only to Evil Dead. Going with such high expectations can be deadly, but The Conjuring instilled me with unwavering confidence. I’m happy to say that I, personally, was not disappointed.

I re-watched the first Insidious days before I screened Insidious: Chapter 2 and I advise you to do the same; this is because the sequel references small, specific details and picks up almost immediately where the first film left off.

Before we can do that though, we must first travel back in time to Josh’s (Patrick Wilson) afflicted childhood. When she discovers her son is being plagued by a malevolent apparition, Josh’s young mother Lorraine (played by Jocelin Donahue from one of my favorite films, House of the Devil) calls in psychic Elise (younger version played by Lindsay Seim). It’s here in the opening scene that we are introduced to a new character, a mutual friend of Elise and Lorraine and another psychic, Carl. Once Elise sees the severity of Josh’s haunting, she decides that she must immediately erase Josh’s memory of his ability to astral project.

We go on to the present—where you do get a bit of a recap, if you don’t decide to re-watch the first film—where things with the Lambert family are far from peaceful. There is an ongoing police investigation on the murder of Elise, and the main suspect is Josh.  Renai (Rose Byrne), Josh, and the kids are staying at Lorraine’s (older version played by Barbara Hershey, Black Swan, The Entity) where the supernatural activity continues even though Dalton and Josh have returned to the realm of the living.

Renai has plenty of reasons to be afraid; her husband is different. He’s tense and cold, and no matter how many strange things happen he insists that nothing is wrong and that all of them need to move on. However, the Josh Renai doesn’t see is muttering to himself, arguing with unseen entities, plotting…

But what’s worse is that something is still after her children. Renai calls on the help of Elise’s team of paranormal investigators from the previous film, Specs (Leigh Whannell, Saw) and Tucker (Angus Sampson, Darkness Falls), Carl (Steve Coulter), and perhaps, a bit of help from the other side…

James Wan claims he is now finished with horror movies, to which I say WHY?!?! The savior of box office horror called The Conjuring his “swan song” in an interview with Bloody Disgusting’s Evan Dickson, and he may just be right about that.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Insidious: Chapter 2, it did have its flaws. They tried to do a lot with the sequel; a non-linear plot, overlapping story lines and a hefty load of protagonists. Admittedly, it can feel a bit jumbled and be hard to follow. However, the only real concern I had with the film was too many jump-scares. Wan is well versed in the macabre and he truly knows how to frighten people. He does it effectively by showing you the horror, building the suspense and then dragging that moment out. It was instances like these that made The Conjuring so bloody terrifying. Sure, we get some really great examples of that in Insidious: Chapter 2, but I was really just kind of miffed at the amount of cheap scares that were dealt out. All I’m saying is if I’m going to piss myself in public, it better be worth it.

Insidious: Chapter 2 reeks of atmosphere. The sets are gorgeous and each scene is dripping with the signature cinematography James Wan gives in his Insidious films and also in Dead Silence. You know what I’m talking about; a keen eye for detail—especially in architecture—and brooding shadows with delicious bursts of color. Costume and make-up are gloriously gaudy and Joseph Bishara returns for a gorgeous score.

It’s hard to pick a favorite aspect of the film for me, but off the top of my head I would have to go with Patrick Wilson’s performance as Josh Lambert. For some reason, I really hated Wilson in the first Insidious. I thought he was dopey and I even poked fun at him in an article I did on astral projecting; but the fella has really grown on me. I think it was The Conjuring that changed my mind, and after his performance in Insidious: Chapter 2.
 As tension grows in the Lambert household, Josh is becoming more and more peculiar. Introverted, aggressive… he takes on a Jack Torrence-like persona. I have no doubt that Wilson referenced Jack Nicholson’s performance in The Shining to get into his character—there’s even a scene where he is beating down a door in a rage while his wife and child cower on the other side! I was thoroughly impressed by Wilson and I hope he continues to pursue roles in horror in the future.

Insidious: Chapter 2 may have its flaws, but it is still a fucking masterpiece compared to most of the crap that is mainstream horror. I’m only disappointed that it will be the so-called last fright flick by the incredible Mr. Wan…

5 comments:

Francisco Gonzalez said...

I absolutely loved The Conjuring, but fear this one either won't live up to how good The Conjuring was...or that it will simply repeat some situations and premises...was it as good as or at least better than The Conjuring?

King Cripple said...

I wouldn't say that it's better than The Conquering, but it is one of the most ambitious sequels to hit theaters in a long time. It expounds upon the mythology created in the original and really takes some meat turns with the characters it established in the original. If Insidious riffs on Poltergeist, Insidious: Chapter 2 definitely riffs on The Shining. It's nowhere near as patient as Kubrick's masterpiece, but they don't make horror like that anymore.

Marie Robinson said...

Very well said, King Cripple! It may not be the Conjuring but it is a well made film, if perhaps a little too ambitious given the resources. It's a damn fun ride, too! It delivers some great scares.

fairy wings said...


I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post.

Christine Hadden said...

Marie and I both thank you for your kind words and for stopping by!
Come back soon!