Insidious Chapter 2 (2013) – movie review

insidious- chapter 2
Insidious Chapter 2 (2013)

After being thoroughly entertained by ’The Conjuring,’ I was eager to see James Wan’s sequel to his earlier film, Insidious. I like the 1st film despite the similarities to Poltergeist and Nightmare on Elm Street. It had its own originality with the black and red demon. The depictions of the Nether and the veiled old crone were creepy. After a brief back-story scene, Insidious 2 begins immediately following the events of the 1st film. The Lambert family has moved into their mother’s home, having their own home quarantined as a police investigation into the death of psychic medium, Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye).

insidious 2 pic 2Josh (Patrick Wilson) is happy that the ordeal is over but his wife, Renai (Rose Byrne), is not convinced. She begins to see and hear strange things in the house, just like at their own home. When she tries to tell her husband, Josh insists that these events are nothing. Eventually the incidents turn into full-on poltergeist encounter. Renai and Lorraine (Josh’s Mom played by Barbara Hershey) get suspicious of her husband’s insistence that it should be ignored.

This first half of the film was successful in creating suspense and delivering a haunting atmosphere. I will say that the phantom piano playing was done better in both, The Others and Grave Dancers but combined with the baby monitor noises, and some ghostly apparitions floating through the rooms, it was escalating nicely. It was good to see Jocelin Donahue from ‘House of the Devil’ playing a young Lorraine in the flashback sequence. I think she’s a fine actress and hope to see her get more parts in film.

(spoiler alert – if you intend to see the film, skip to the last paragraph)
There is a point in this film where everything lined up too perfectly and where everything seemed too explained. The thing that makes paranormal films (and the paranormal in general) scary is the not knowing. I also feel that Wan and Leigh Whanell (co-writer) decided the audience was too dumb to figure things out without slapping them in the face with it. I would say most viewers had already understood that the serial killer, Parker, was abused by his mom and that she made him dress like a girl because she hated men. This was obvious early in the film. But then they had a whole scene, again, which explained it and showed it in better detail. This only made the audience feel sorry for the young boy Parker who grew into the killer Parker. Insidious2 pic 3Feeling empathy toward your main antagonist doesn’t make him scary, it makes him a sorrowful figure. And if that’s not enough, the psychic, Elise, (I know, she’s dead but she was there in the Nether waiting for Josh) then explained it verbally for a third time and added, “If we destroy the memory of the Mom, the spirit looses his power.” Really, that’s too nice and neatly packaged for me. I also love the way the son can fall asleep at a moments notice, even when he is terrified by a psychotic banging down the door. My BS meter was pinned.
(spoiler alert – end)

Eventually, the events became too much to believe. Everything lined up too conveniently. A good film needs to not drift too far from reality to be effective. At times I couldn’t believe all the logic and simple explanations of the events happening. I’d rather have no explanation than a dumb one. I get the same feeling from most cop shows on TV. Every clue leads to another clue or witness and in an hour everything is wrapped up nice and neatly. It’s like paint-by-numbers. It is amazing that a lot of the same techniques that worked so well in The Conjuring, fell flat here. It’s another one of those movies that I wouldn’t mind watching the 1st half, but would then shut it off as it becomes too silly. As always, the sequel isn’t nearly as good as the original.
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Related Articles:
The Conjuring
House of the Devil
Creepy Old Ladies in film

13 thoughts on “Insidious Chapter 2 (2013) – movie review

    • That reminds me, I should put a link to House of the Devil at the end of this post. She’s only in this film for about 5 minutes at the very beginning, she plays the young Lorainne (Barbara Hershey) in a flash back sequence.

  1. Well, I will most likely give this movie a shot but I am in no hurry. I think The Conjuring will be the way to go for a good Wan fix for me. I wonder of Wan knew this sequel wouldn’t perform. He feels he’s done with the horror genre and maybe he was forced into this sequel and just burned out somewhat. Good post, Michael!

  2. While I can’t say that I was frightened the whole way through, I did like some of the directions Wan took with this story. However, there weren’t many scares to be had here and I think that’s where most of the problems boil down to. Good review.

  3. Apparently the performances are really good here, so I may check it out at least for them. I really love the first, and as you know I love all genres, I’m a huge cinephile. But good horror just might be my favourite. Great write up!

    • I assumed this was going to be good, but was somewhat dissappointed. My fave Wan film is Dead Silence followed by The Conjuring and Insidious (1). Saw was okay but I’m more partial to paranormal horror 🙂

  4. Now you make me want to watch The Conjuring and House of the Devil again and give this one a pass. Will watch it when it comes to Netflix to see what you mentioned just for fun though!

  5. I need to watch both the original & the sequel; guessed that the sequel might be inferior, but I hope that won’t be the case for a future The Conjuring 2 🙂

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