Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Writer: Leigh Whannell (screenplay), James Wan (story)
Certificate: 15 Running Time: 1hr 46 Mins
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins
Plot: The Lambert family is haunted by a malevolent presence which has plagued their everyday existence ever since a disturbing childhood secret was supposedly long forgotten
A decade dedicated to horror, James Wan has flourished into one of the outstanding genre film-makers of his generation. He entangled us in Jigsaw’s sadistic web in the revolutionary Saw (2003), terrified us with the much overlooked Dead Silence (2007) and possessed our subconscious with The Conjuring (2013). Arguably his most memorable work since Saw was the brooding, incubus inspired Insidious (2010). Wan and screenwriter Whannell explored the paranormal concept of astral projection by transposing the dark realm of ‘the further’ dream world upon a credulous suburban family. With the story being left on tenterhooks, the possibility of a sequel was done no harm by the commercial success of the venture which cost around $1.5m to make and recouped a staggering $97m at the box office. In an interview earlier this year, Wan confirmed that Insidious: Chapter 2 would be his last horror feature citing a desire to seek new challenges as his driving force.The question remained would Chapter 2 leave genre fans craving more or will this in fact prove to be a welcome hiatus?
If Insidious: Chapter 2 is James Wan’s farewell love letter to the dark heart of cinema then it is safe to say, that by his high standards, he has dissolved rather than erupted into the background. A repressed shadow of the original, Chapter 2 doesn’t have the sinister edge which propelled its predecessor to such lofty heights. That being said, credit must be given for a genuine attempt to add depth, progress and solve the unanswered questions of the first film. Fans of Insidious will connect and find unexpected moments of real fright here, however, those with no previous exposure to Insidious universe will be left feeling an overriding sense of bewilderment. The pacing feels frantic and borders on the convoluted as the action sprawls across the physical world and into ‘the further’.
Although the metaphysical aspect of Chapter 2 is intriguing, it is an arduous task to locate exactly which creaking cupboard the originality is hiding in. The prominence given to a frustrating sub-plot hinders the emergence of terror synonymous with Wan throughout his career. The ineffectual scenes largely centre around the screen time given to a newly formed inquisitive trio: the paranormal investigators, a gifted medium and Josh’s mother. Their mission to unearth the mystery behind the Lambert family’s haunting unfolds as they prowl abandoned hospitals at night and are faced with bizarre apparitions. Such scenes lack the fearful spark of when Josh (Patrick Wilson) is dwindling into madness.
Wan is a master of crafting the eerily atmospheric scare scenes of which there are plenty. One can’t help but feel he is reaching into his vast experience and simply recycling old tricks to frighten a new audience. It feels like the right time for a change of scenery and to explore other cinematic themes in order to reinvigorate the genius witnessed in the likes of Saw. As with most sequels, Chapter 2 represents a clear drive from the producers to milk the cash cow. The Friday 13th release date and a strong fan base has seen Insidious: Chapter 2 become the second highest grossing September debut of all time. With Wan’s next project set to be Fast and Furious 7, it is hard to find a more bankable investment in Hollywood or anywhere in the world for that matter.