I remember sitting down in a packed cinema room in Leicester Square watching another Blumhouse Productions spine-tingler, Sinister, critiquing the film as gasps and yaps resounded around me. Despite it being a very enjoyable horror film, I couldn’t take my mind off of a simple, glaringly-obvious plot contrivance that occurred continually: just why didn’t the chief protagonist, Ellison, ever switch on the lights during the spooky moments?!
Granted we are instructed to “suspend disbelief” when watching a film, but his decision-making – not only with the light situation but throughout – seemed like that of a man actively wanting to be scared to death! I’m not the only who was frustrated by his photophobic behaviour as even the late, great Roger Ebert scathed “all through ‘Sinister,’ you keep thinking, ‘Switch on the lights, fool!’”
“What does this have to do with Insidious: Chapter 2?” I hear you saying…Well, it’s quite simply this: the protagonists actually do switch on the lights during the bumps in the night in this film. It’s the natural reaction of any normal human being. Incidentally, this coherent thinking sums up the approach adopted in James Wan’s follow-up to the 2010 hit. It’s also simultaneously the smartest and slightly confusing aspect of the film.
Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up from where the previous film left off. Now relocated temporarily at Josh’s (Patrick Wilson) childhood home with his mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), the Lamberts soon realise that their ordeal is far from over as more frightening occurrences dog their attempt to settle back into normality.
More than any other objective, the film set out to not only continue the story of the first instalment, but also explain those seemingly inexplicable creaks and knocks that had us quivering behind our popcorn.
What we get is a cool Back to the Future-esque anomaly in which The Further’s flouting of the indefinite laws of spacetime allow future events to occur in the past Make sense? Soon you slowly realise that a lot of the “ghostly activity” was actually perpetrated by an astral projected Josh, which took the theme to an interesting multidimensional, nonlinear avenue of exploration that was fascinating to watch, if a little hard to swallow.
Weirdly, all writer Leigh Whannell’s trifling lent the fable more credence. Insidious: Chapter 2 attempted to rationalise – for lack of a better word – pretty much EVERYTHING!
It’s no longer all about eerie demonic entities from dark unknowns; it’s now about evil souls – most importantly, the Old Woman who inhabited Josh’s body – intent on continuing their bloody work by infesting the living yet it’s just as disturbing and bone-chillingly brilliant nonetheless.
The theatrical factor is definitely amped up a fair few notches. The characters of Specs (Whannell) and Tucker provide more than fleeting moments of comic relief – they’re just genuinely compelling and likeable throughout. At the preview screening, we were all chuckling as much as we were jumping out of our seats. Chapter 2 is an extravaganza; not one rife with indelible images in the way of a Poltergeist or the original House on Haunted Hill but one that is like a hellish funhouse decked in Argento-inspired operatic leitmotifs.
Because the film is so preoccupied with being sparky, it doesn’t quite have the attention to suspense building the first had. Despite this, the cast do a bang-up job of exuding a sense of unnerving tension for what is to come. Usually with the haunted house subgenre you get a door that opens slightly, then a shadow in a reflection before, finally, objects and people are possessed into doing things that defy reality.
Chapter 2 doesn’t care for this formula, opting instead to deliver a steady series of punchy gags that never build to the volcanic climax I’d hoped for. Some might actually like the flying electronic baby walker/loud noise approach right from the start, others mightn’t. Nevertheless, Whannell, Wan and the crew of this growing franchise will be happy in the knowledge that they’ve kept things fresh and are still able to gazump even the most avid horror aficionados with some innovative payoffs.
Check out our Insidious: Chapter 2 Competition right Here