Warning: may contain spoilers.
In this sequel to the first horror and thriller, director James Wan works to pick up exactly where the first “Insidious” left off with more thrills along the way.
Wan has become a bit of an important name in the world of horror films. He directed “The Conjuring,” based on a true story, which came out earlier this summer and had a production budget of $20 million and made an estimated $41.5 million in the first three days of release. He constantly used different camera angles and techniques, making sure the best shot of the film was always shown, and he doesn’t let up with “Insidious: Chapter 2.” His tactics of close-ups right on the ugliest, scariest characters make anyone watch the movie through the cracks in their hands.
After the first movie, the Lambert family thought their encounters with the spirit world were over. Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is finally awake and back in the real world after his father, Josh (Patrick Wilson), escaped into the spirit realm to retrieve his son. When both boys were out of the world, medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) was found strangled and dead, with no killer in sight.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” opens with a flashback with the younger Elise (Lindsey Seim) and partner, Carl, trying to figure out the unnatural occurrences that have been happening with the young Lorraine’s son, Josh. Once the flashback is over, it goes to a present day police investigation into the death of Ms. Rainier, and questions are brought up as to whether Josh killed her after he retrieved Dalton from the spirit world.
Once DNA tests were secured and Josh was found innocent, the Lambert family thought they could be a ‘normal family’ once again and that their encounters with the spirit world were over. This thought was, of course, wrong. As the strange occurrences begin happening again while the Lamberts are living with Josh’s mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), they discover the causes of the strange happenings are due to Josh – both past and present forms.
In a way, two stories are occurring at once in the movie. One consists of mother Renai (Rose Byrne), Josh, and the boys Dalton and Foster (Andrew Astor) working to figure out what has been happening to them, and the other consists of Elise’s former partners, Carl (Steve Coulter), Specs (Leigh Whannell), and Tucker (Angus Sampson) working with Lorraine as they delve into Josh’s past and the young Elise Rainier’s story, discovering a chilling secret about a killer named “The Black Bride.” As each story unfolds and interacts, the question on everyone’s mind is, “If Josh isn’t Josh, who the hell is he?”
Though the first “Insidious” lacked originality or any scare tactics whatsoever, “Insidious: Chapter 2” delivers with force. From the moment the title comes on screen with classic horror film music in the background and credits scrolling, it sets a mood for a thrill ride.
Most of the casting was exceptional, especially with Patrick Wilson from “The Conjuring” increasing his reservoir as he adds the horror genre amidst his romantic comedies and Broadway appearances, and Ty Simpkins making another appearance, where most will recognize him as the cheeky little boy from “Iron Man 3.”
The film induces suspense and screams from the audience as the plot constantly twists and turns in different directions. Immediately when you think you have everything figured out, something unexpected pops up. The worlds that Wan delves into with these films present an experience for the audience that is sure to consume people’s minds, questioning the realms of the spirits and the living.
As the film comes to a close, questions have been answered, they have redeemed themselves from the first movie, and Wan leaves the ending open for yet a third sequel. And though ‘threequels’ rarely achieve success, audiences present high hopes for the third installment of the series.
SpeakEasy Grade: B+
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror and violence and thematic elements