Insidious: Chapter 2

In Films by Christa Ktorides

Insidious Chapter 2 will surprise no one familiar with the first film, using as it does the same jump techniques and beats as the superior original. Thus this renders it a far less visceral and heart thumping experience than its predecessor.

We begin in an early 80’s flashback with young medium Elise (Lindsay Seim) arriving at the home of Lorraine Lambert (Jocelin Donahue) who is concerned for her son Josh (Garrett Ryan). As Elise investigates the apparent haunting at the Lambert’s home we are filled in on the notion of the astral plane referred to as the Further and witness the technique that Elise uses to stop Josh from travelling there in his sleep, leaving his body open to possession by evil spirits.

Flash forward to where we left off at the end of Insidious and Josh (Patrick Wilson)is back from his trip into the Further to rescue his young son Dalton (Ty Simpkins – one of those rare child actors that makes you wish you were a parent). But is Josh really Josh? We know that Insidious ended with the malevolent spirit of an old woman taking possession of Josh’s body, killing Elise (Lin Shaye) and certainly his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) is suspicious that all is not right with her husband. But as the young family try to move on with their lives it becomes apparent that the spirits are not done with them yet.

After the success of the excellent The Conjuring a month or so back you would be forgiven for thinking that writer/director James Wan has spread himself a little thin this year and Insidious: Chapter 2 is the film that suffers for this. It’s by no means a poor film, with plenty to recommend it as a fun thrill ride but it falls into the same trap as many sequels do; demystifying a villain and explaining their origins takes a portion of the terror out of the tale. That the explanation turns out to be so trite doesn’t help matters either.

Still, Wan and co-writer/actor Leigh Whannell have given us a set of characters that we truly care about, the Lambert’s are a lovely bunch, cute but not saccharin children, a loving couple and a cool, brave grandma in the form of Barbara Hershey certainly helps matters and the comedic return of Elise’s assistants Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) is a welcome one.

By removing the relative simplicity of the original tale and giving a more complex plot to the follow up, Wan and Whannell have sadly removed the scares for seasoned horror hounds and replaced it with convoluted explanations and half-baked ideas. A shame given the refreshing scare-fest of the first film but thanks to the likeability of the characters Insidious: Chapter 2 manages to just about make it worth a look for those curious about what happened next.

Insidous: Chapter 2 is out on Friday 13th September 2013.