Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

insidiousStarring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Leigh Whannell, Barbara Hershey

Directed by: James Wan

PG-13. 105 mins

Despite an interesting journey through space and time, this sequel violates one of the most important rules in horror filmmaking: don’t spend too much time with backstories and mythology; more mystery results in more scares. The original film followed the Lambert family as they discover that is wasn’t their house that was haunted – it was their son. Chapter 2 picks up where the first one left off as the family tries to move on from their terrible experience, only to find out more disturbing childhood secrets that explain their son’s connection to the spirit world. Unfortunately, screenwriters James Wan and Leigh Whannell (Saw) fill the story with cheap tricks and amateur dialogue. In an attempt to add more depth to the original, the sequel introduces so many new characters that it becomes tiresome to watch them slowly unravel the ridiculous expositional knot they’ve created. Completely bereft of any dread or suspense, there isn’t a huge pay-off except for a jump here and there. Even the skilled cast members can only do so much with the absurd dialogue and unintentionally humorous situations. That being said, some of the techniques here are great and there are fleeting moments of interest. In particular, the final third of the film takes the audience through “The Further” which is Wan’s intriguing take on the afterworld – there is no grandiose CGI-effects, simply a void with faces and bodies appearing from the darkness. That’s just about the only creative moment though, since the rest of the film is some confused blend of Psycho-meets-The Shining. There was potential for something good here and barely two months after the release of Wan’s acclaimed The Conjuring, it really is a shame. Insidious: Chapter 2 is a horror film that simply tries too hard; Wan and Whannell are so obsessed with tying things into the previous film and reciting “in-jokes” that it doesn’t really mean much of anything to the audience because they continue to answer questions that no one was asking in the first place. It would be different if Insidious had been a monumental success, a classic like the ones the film lazily borrows from, but it isn’t. Been there, seen that – * 1/2

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