Directed by James Wan
So, you’ve seen the first installment of Insidious and you’ve seen the smash hit haunted house horror roller coaster ride called The Conjuring. Congratulations! Now, that you’ve walked trepidatiously along that path, your reward is to bear witness to Insidious: Chapter 2, a sequel that tries to entertain as much as the first installment but also aims to completely annihilate the tried but true construct of the typical ghost story. That sounds like a bold endeavor, but it seems like director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell are hell bent on blowing their original concept completely out of the water.
The Lambert family has just undergone one of the most hellish experiences any one family could possibly endure, but what happens if what you think is the end is actually just the beginning? Josh (Patrick Wilson) begs his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) to just ignore all of the continuing oddities within the household, so the usual jump scares and setups that were effective in the first installment play out as a joke that should be ignored at all costs. As a result, the scares that were effective in the first film become a minor annoyance in the first reel of Insidious: Chapter 2, almost as if Wan himself is bored with what is quickly becoming a construct instead of a legitimate foundation.
Early on, it’s obvious that Wan and Whannell are attempting to reinvent the haunted house formula by adding on a subplot that delves into the family’s past instead of just dealing with the usual tropes of a family terrorized. The concept of The Further is expanded upon, revealing a deeper family history that dovetails nicely with Josh’s past and his mother (Barbara Hershey) and how her associations actually springboard another sinister character that haunts the Lamberts even more deeply than that somewhat laughable demon from the first installment.
The first half hour of Insidious: Chapter 2 would have been a great setup for a haunted house movie, but with the first film’s success, Wan and Whannell are smart enough to turn the tables on the now tiresome aspects of a story revolving around a family haunted. They exhausted almost all of their camera tricks in the first installment and then Wan made The Conjuring, limiting their options even more.
As a result, Insidious: Chapter 2 feels more like a giant middle finger pointed at the audience instead of a genuine interest to continue on with the Lambert legacy. Wan and Whannell used this sequel as an opportunity to lambast the haunted house subgenre, and as a result, the initial scares fall flat and feel tired, and the manic plot doesn’t reinvent the genre as much as it actively tries to torpedo it.
2 out of 5