By Richard Haridy
March 11, 2014
After creating the huge Saw franchise and reinvigorating the haunted house movie with the first Insidious and then The Conjuring, Aussie writer/director team James Wan & Leigh Whannell are stepping into franchise mode with Insidious: Chapter 2.
Following on from the end of Insidious, all you need to know is Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson are the parents of a young boy who, in the first flick, lost himself in an alternate astral dimension leaving his body to be taken over by evil spirits. At the conclusion of that film, the father had returned from this alternate dimension having saved his son, but he may not have returned alone. So begins Chapter 2, with Byrne becoming suspicious of her husband’s strange behaviour.
Insidious: Chapter 2 plays like an old fashioned fright-fest on fast forward. Wan and Whannell have their formula down to a fine art and hit the accelerator from frame one using every single trick and cliché in the book to get a rise out of you. It’s horror on steroids with everything from abandoned old hospitals, creepy dolls, ghost children, self-playing pianos, ghost women wearing bridal veils, to even a scene in which Wilson wanders around a bunch of figures wearing sheets over their heads.
Wan’s direction is incredibly strong and he generates a constant sense of the picture one-upping itself that actually works on some crazy level, resulting in the feeling we’re watching a finely tuned scream-making machine operating at top capacity. Whannell’s screenplay, on the other hand, is pretty weak. He’s always had a problem with hammy dialogue and clunky exposition. Too often characters point out the blindingly obvious and Whannell’s staple cliché of having newspaper clippings explain plot background is well present.
Unlike the pair’s prior picture The Conjuring, which played things with a little more class and restraint, Insidious: Chapter 2 is 21st century new horror with everything turned up to 11. It’s not gory, but rather relies on ceaseless weirdness with scores of jump scares and even an odd Back To The Future 2–style subplot that’s undeveloped yet still adds to the overall sense of crazy. Love or hate it, this is pretty effective modern scare cinema.
Insidious: Chapter 2 will be available from Quickflix on March 12, 2014.