Thursday, September 12

Insidious: Chapter 2 Review

Insidious: Chapter 2
Dir: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, and Barbara Hershey

“Insidious” did something horror seemed to forget about, it utilized traditional scares and techniques in executing a ghost story with startling and genuinely creepy effect. This accomplished all without an abundance of gore or violence was a surprise at the time. While “Paranormal Activity” used similar scare tactics, “Insidious” felt different because of the narrative design. While the originality was lacking, since most of the story seemed inspired by ghost films before it, it recreated and amplified the jump-out-of-your-seat fright factor missing from horror films. “Insidious: Chapter 2” started the film mere hours after the original film. While the initial transition from the ending of the first to the beginning of the second film was intriguing, “Insidious: Chapter 2” ended up being a cluttered assembly of rehashed scares and forced answers.

Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) have just escaped the ordeal that haunted their lives. The couple, needing to leave their home due to an investigation of the events, moves in with Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey). Almost immediately toys begin to turn on by themselves, a specter in white wanders through the hallways, and their son begins to have terrible dreams again. Renai begins to question her curiously doubtful husband and begins to investigate the past for answers.

Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell, who also acted in the film, opened the sequel with a visit to Josh’s childhood past. Wan capably created tension with his framing techniques in the first few minutes skillfully heightening the uncertainty of the expected and unexpected elements. The “Chapter 2” in the title implied the idea of a continuing story, which naturally allowed for further examination into the main characters. Josh’s past was examined, showing his relationship with his mother and the odd events that surrounded her as a nurse. It was the relationship with the past that ultimately stumbled the narrative. Backed into a corner on numerous occasions brought explanations to situations from the first film. Those scenes were reutilized for storytelling purposes, which lessened the scary significance held on their own.

While the first film paid homage, perhaps too blatantly, to haunting film predecessors, “Chapter 2” did more of the same in a far more direct method. “Psycho” and “The Shining” were the two most obvious films being utilized as inspiration. Rose Byrne offered a good performance but her character wasn’t required to do more than react to things moving and being chased, still she embodied well the reactions of a confused wife and terrified mother. Patrick Wilson was challenged with the difficult task of playing an imitation of his own character. His performance was mixed with scenes that felt overly subdued and others that felt forcibly emotional. The performances were a noticeable change from the capable handling of the characters in the first film.

There were a few moments during the film that felt genuinely dread filled and startling, regardless of how much influence the soundtrack had with promoting the scare. That sensation is an accommodation to James Wan’s skill as a director, he understands how to create atmosphere in his films. However, there were also scenes that felt like leftovers from the first film, and unfortunately, developing a sequel while standing on the shoulders of its’ predecessor only hurts the foundation that supports it.

Monte’s Rating
2.50 out of 5.00

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