Friday 13 September 2013

Review: Insidious Chapter 2

World of Blackout Film Review

Insidious Chapter 2 Poster

Insidious Chapter 2 (spoiler-free)
Cert: 15 / 105 mins / Dir. James Wan

So after the surprisingly pleasant nostalgia of the first installment, with neither a break nor a trailer in sight, the lights stayed down and Insidious Chapter 2 began. Not a midnight showing, but a double-bill is every bit as good.

Buoyed up by its predecessor I think that, again, I was in the right mood for this. It's just as campy as the first movie, with the same knowing title-card, and while the slapstick of Specs and Tucker has been turned up slightly, it still serves as a welcome counterpoint to some pretty intense filmmaking. Now that's not to say that there's anything "new" in here; after a flashback to 1986, the first half-hour of the film continues directly from Insidious, and at times feels like it's grasping at straws for a reason to have been made. The situation that arises from Josh's return from 'the further' is blithely pushed to one side until even his wife Renai questions why no-one else is freaking-the-hell-out about a dead body and an eyebrow-raising police investigation.

Then the beauty of the film kicks in: the writing. James Wan and Leigh Whannell have taken a by-the-numbers sequel and given it a murder-mystery sub-plot and even sprinkled a bit of time-travel over the top (yes). And the best part? It works. When you remember that you're meant to be having fun watching this, it all combines to make something far greater than most horror-sequels. It's still not going to set the world on fire, but it expands on the original, deftly replaying scenes from that film using the 'open doors' if left, but it also manages to have its own thread running alongside. Both the time-travel aspect and the plot about Mother Mortis are used just enough to be neatly tied up without feeling overdone, and the movie spins its plates rather well.

And as I'm not spoiling in this review, all I can say is that The Old Lady Ghost from Insidious is given a backstory that truly bold. Fucking nuts, but bold. There's something deeply satisfying about Insidious 2 that I can't quite put my finger on, especially as Rose Byrne and Ty Simpkins*1 seem to have less to do this time, but Patrick Wilson has more and he's clearly enjoying himself. It's a good thing when a sequel is as engaging as the original film, and a better one when it enhances it.

On a down-note, the younger iterations of the characters in the 1986 flashbacks are well cast, but they seem to have dubbed Lin Shaye's voice onto Lindsay Seim's acting, as the young spiritualist, Elise. While the synching's spot on, it's obviously not the voice of a twenty five year old, and pulls you right out of the scenes. A particularly odd choice as no-one else seems to get this treatment?

Bottom line: If you enjoyed Insidious, you'll get a lot out of Chapter 2. If you didn't, don't bother. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, even if it holds the door open for a (frankly needless) threequel.

For best effect, watch immediately after Insidious; that's how it's intended.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
The film is better than the trailer.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Mainly laughing, but yes.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
For the horror buff, cinema; the rest of you will lose nothing by watching it at home.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
Yes, but probably only with its predecessor in prep for Chapter 3.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Not that I heard.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Can James Wan stretch it to a third though? I mean he will, obviously, but should he?

*1 It's only in recent weeks I worked out that he's the kid from Iron Man 3. Y'know, one of the few child-actors that hasn't grated on me, ever. Bizarre.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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