Insidious: Chapter 2 Review

Film Still
  • Insidious: Chapter 2 film still


One-man schlock horror machine, James Wan, returns with this lame-duck sequel to the 2010 mini hit.

The latest chiller from one-man terror factory James Wan, his second of the season following humdrum Amityville pastiche The Conjuring, is about as blood-curdling as a B&B shortage at Whitby Goth Weekender.

The first Insidious was a sinister hybrid of Poltergeist thrills and Nightmare on Elm Street spills. By reaching out to the spirits of shockers past, Wan managed to knock together a ruthlessly efficient horrorshow that manages to spine-tingle with the best of them, as well as tapping into something more primal and unnerving at the same time.

Sadly, this follow-up feels like a feature-length Vine. The editing’s snappy beyond comprehension, the camerawork wonky as hell and the digital lensing often foggy and indistinct. What’s more, the dialogue reeks of first draft prattle. The film simply feels rushed. There are malevolent kicks to be had but it’s all distinctly low-rent.

Insidious: Chapter Two (effectively the Freddy’s Revenge of the franchise) picks up where the previous film left off, with family man Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) safe-guarding his family once again from assorted ghostly goings-on. This time around, both his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and mother (Barbara Hershey, who really is too good for this jive) suspect that Josh may not be quite himself these days, and undertake an investigation into his behaviour that uncovers some grotesque and deadly truths.

Wan seems to revel in his film's rubbishness. To wit, line delivery verges on the moonstruck from the get-go. And for some reason, the goofy Ghostbuster type characters from the first film are now the leads, replete with newly developed feelings and homoerotic slapstick.

Elsewhere, an extended 'found footage' sequence set in a haunted house shoots for existential dread panic, but ends up marginally less demented than a Cath Kidston pillowcase. And there's even a moment when, in a fit of narrative delirium, one of the characters literally ends up haunting himself.

The film’s cardinal sin, however, is pretty much ignoring everything that made the original Insidious such a riot. Forget all that cool, creepy stuff about demonic happenings in the unlit corners of the mortal world. Wan instead concentrates his efforts (let's call them efforts) on his least effective conceit, namely the hokey-cokey, netherworld nonsense of 'the Further'.

In Chapter One, the Further felt precious and beyond human reach. Lambert's incursion into this undead realm represented an unnatural and (yes) insidious act that ripped apart the boundaries between universes. No such issues in Insidious: Chapter Two. Apparently every man and his dog can wander around the place these days. Just pop a couple of sleeping pills and you'll wake up knee deep in pool of dry ice and small-town Gothic, it seems.

But, hey, at least Patrick Wilson gets to have fun, giving it some hardcore Jack Torrance in the film’s ridiculous, predictable finale. His spirited turn doesn't quite save it, but he certainly transcends the artless, contractual obligation awkwardness of everything else. Despite the literary pretensions of its title, Insidious: Chapter Two is no scholarly tome, it's cheapo dime store pulp with half the pages ripped out.

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