Insidious: Chapter 2-attachment0

Insidious: Chapter 2

Movie Information

The Story: A continuation of 2010's Insidious — with the focus changed to the father. The Lowdown: One of the most beautifully connected sequels I've ever seen, Insidious: Chapter 2 is everything I hoped for and more. Easily as creepy as the first film and quite possibly a better movie in the bargain.
Genre: Horror
Director: James Wan (Insidious)
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson
Rated: PG-13

I held high hopes for James Wan’s Insidious: Chapter 2. After all, his Insidious (2010) is in a select group of 21st century horror films that I’ve watched more than twice — a group consisting of The Ring (2002), Seed of Chucky (2004) and Silent Hill (2006). Even with the pitfalls inherent in any sequel — let’s face it, The Ring 2 (2005) was rubbish and Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) wasn’t much better — I was hopeful, especially because the same director and writer were in place on this sequel. That’s generally a good sign. I took it as a good enough sign that I went to the 10 p.m. show on Thursday at The Carolina to join a bunch of teenagers (and what appeared to be a hapless grandfather with child in tow) to see it at the earliest possible moment.  And my hopes were not in vain. In fact, I believe Insidious: Chapter 2 might be the better film, though, frankly, it’s hard to separate the two pictures.

I honestly have never seen a sequel that’s as completely organic as this one. I was especially struck by a scene that incorporated, expounded on and explained one of the random scares from Insidious. Naturally, I wanted to see how well this really fit, so I came home and popped the DVD in to check. It was only then that I realized that the first shot in Insidious by all rights belongs to Chapter 2 — or at least to the backstory from 1986 that opens it. By itself, it seems like little more than a creepy mood-setter. Taken in connection with Chapter 2, it becomes much more to the point. Whether this was intentionally done to lead to this sequel, I have no idea, but it helps to make the two movies virtually seamless.

The bulk of this film concerns whether what really came back from “The Further” in Insidious was indeed Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). This isn’t much of a mystery, since we already knew he wasn’t himself by the end of the first film. However, we didn’t know exactly what he was, or whether he was possessed. The second film unravels this and the story of Josh’s childhood possession. That story strikes me as stronger than the one about the red-faced demon in the first film. (And, despite the trailer’s use of the demon’s “theme” — the Tiny Tim recording of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” — he doesn’t show up here, except possibly in the tag scene meant to lead into the inevitable Chapter 3.)

All in all, Chapter 2 is a solid spook show — much like the first, but with the intensity ramped up. Since our spirit medium, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), is dead in this film (which doesn’t mean we won’t see her), her old associate, Carl (Steve Coulter), is brought in to work with the semi-comic relief ghost hunters Specs (writer Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). He’s a reasonable substitute and has the film’s most memorable line — “Let’s just say this is a house where very little good happened.” There are a couple of moments where the film starts to slip out of control, but these are quickly reined in. And the performance of Danielle Bisutti as the younger version of the “Bride in Black” is a most elegant personification of evil.

Horror is quite possibly even more subjective than comedy. What scares me — or at least creeps me out — is probably drawn from deep recesses in my psyche that I have only the vaguest understanding of. And there’s no guarantee that it will scare you. As witness, I have a friend whose opinion I respect and who most certainly knows the horror genre, but who was left almost completely cold by the film. It’s clear that James Wan has tapped into something — in both these films and Dead Silence (2007) — that genuinely disturbs and unsettles me (not in a bad way, mind you). Whether this will hit a nerve with you, I can’t say, but as modern horror goes, this one is up there with the best. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror, violence and thematic elements.

Playing at Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

13 thoughts on “Insidious: Chapter 2

  1. Xanadon't

    So do you now have sufficient urge to screen Carnival of Souls one of these Thursday nights? Not that I’d be able to attend, but I just noticed that it looks as though it hasn’t played here.

    I would say that this didn’t creep me out or startle me as much as the first, but it a lot of ways it fascinated me more. Very satisfying sequel indeed.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I don’t know. I think the clip from Carnival of Souls in Chapter 2 pretty much satisfied my need to see Carnival again. I’ve never been as entranced with it as I’m supposed to be — for me it’s one great location and one terrific scene and not much more. I’ve got it around here somewhere…but since you won’t be coming…

  3. Xanadon't

    Well, I remember the movie feeling a bit uneven and sometimes unintentionally silly for stretches, but that the movie worked pretty well and felt surprisingly modern inside the horror elements. I also remember thinking that Night of the Living Dead would’ve been a different movie had this not come along first.

    There look to be some pretty impressive shots and screen compositions going on just by going back and looking at some of the stills.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I’m sad to see that you seem to be in the minority with your favorable review of this. I loved it.

    I pretty much expected this to be the case. A.) it was a sequel. B.) The critics had just gone overboard overpraising The Conjuring. Take both those factors and add in the simple fact that it was a horror pictue…well, you get the idea. But really — you loved it and you know it was good, so does it really matter what anyone else says? Don’t get hung up on these dumb aggregation percentages.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Well, I remember the movie feeling a bit uneven and sometimes unintentionally silly for stretches, but that the movie worked pretty well and felt surprisingly modern inside the horror elements. I also remember thinking that Night of the Living Dead would’ve been a different movie had this not come along first.

    Very possibly. It has always seemed to me to be a movie that was kind of thrown together in order to use “this really neat location we have access to.” (I feel exactly the same way about Session Nine.) There are nice touches — and the big scene is a corker — but the acting really hurts it and the leading lady is not very appealing.

    … But I do plan on making Darjeeling in theater 6

    I will be watching for you. I might even manage to bring the “Vengeance” set with me.

  6. Lisa Watters

    Hi Ken, I have a question for you not at all related to this movie. Did you ever see the film Triangle – it came out in 2009 and is described as a ‘psychological horror film.’ I noticed it was never reviewed in Mountain Xpress and wondered if you ever saw it or had heard about it. I rented it a couple of years ago and I think it is the spookiest film I’ve ever seen (more in a psychological than horror kind of way.) Anyway it really stayed with me and I would recommend you renting it sometime if you haven’t seen it (whenever you have a spare moment that is!) I would be really interested in hearing what you think of it. Best, Lisa

  7. Ken Hanke

    I looked up Triangle and as I kinda suspected, it never had a US theatrical release. That’s why there’s no review on file. In fact, this is the first I’ve heard of it. I’ll see if I can track it down.

  8. Xanadon't

    I watched Triangle a few years ago, so many specifics have escaped my memory. I remember watching a better performance out of Melissa George than I would’ve guessed. It’s kinda like a Timecrimes set at sea with more horror elements than sci-fi ideas. And while I don’t think it’s a Magnet release, it feels like something they’d be attached to.

  9. DavidF

    “But really — you loved it and you know it was good, so does it really matter what anyone else says?”

    Oh, I completely agree with you. The only reason I’m concerned at all is that I want to see more from the world that James Wan constructed, and I want he franchise to continue it’s high quality. So my only concern is that it’s successful enough to continue to get support.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Well, considering it was in the black by the end of Friday, I doubt there’s anything to worry about as concerns support. The real worry now is Wan’s claim that he’s through with the horror genre.

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