Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
James Wan has certainly been working hard this year. Not only has he started working on Fast and Furious 7, but he also delivered one of the year’s creepiest supernatural-thrillers with The Conjuring. That film saw Wan working at the top of his game, a movie that brought the scares while managing to be mature and carefully structured at the same time. If that film gave Wan some well-deserved horror-cred, then Insidious: Chapter 2 risks losing it all.
After a preposterously performed and written flashback introduction, we’re thrown into the events that take place almost immediately after the first film. Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) has returned after rescuing his son from “the further”, a sort-of parallel dimension inhabited by the tortured souls of the dead, which can be entered in a dream-like state. The horrific events from the first film lead to the family moving into the house of Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), Josh’s mother. When these supernatural occurrences continue, Josh’s wife Renai (Rose Byrne) begins to suspect that her husband may no longer be the same.
It’s almost like this film was made quickly and lazily. The plot speeds by at a ridiculous rate, almost afraid to slow down less you notice the gaping plot-holes and clunky screenwriting. The dialogue is simply poor, at times laughable. Screenwriter Leigh Whannell (who also stars) seems to have patched together moments from his favourite horror films with a hope that everything works itself into a sort of structure. There is certainly a structure to be found, it’s just eye-rollingly amateur.
Futile tangents and ideas are thrown around the place, with certain moments showing promise of what could have been had more care been placed. For example, the second act features a large side-plot where certain characters explore an abandoned hospital. These events are dragged out for all they’re worth, only to conclude in a dull explanation of why the demonic “villain” is so bad. These types of frustrating developments plague the film; moments that are merely there to punch home a horror cliché used in countless other films.
There are awkward moments throughout the film that really confound. Honestly, I was unsure as to whether it was the acting that was terrible or the screenplay. It seems to be a combination of the two. Rose Byrne does a decent job as the distraught mother, crying and looking wide-eyed at inanimate objects. Unfortunately, everybody else doesn’t do the film any favours. Even Patrick Wilson ended up receiving unintentional laughs with his impersonation of The Shining’s Jack Torrance.
Insidious: Chapter 2 isn’t a complete loss. There are a few moments that get the heart racing. The scene in which a child’s acoustic string phone receives a message from someone in the closet, for example, is effectively unsettling. Joseph Bishara’s nerve-rattling score deserves kudos for grabbing your attention, even when what you’re seeing isn’t particularly spooky. Also worthy of a mention: a nifty time-travel sequence which ties back to a sequence from the first film.
Insidious: Chapter 2 doesn’t surprise in its mediocrity – it’s a sequel to an average thriller after all. A mixed bag of good ideas and poor execution, James Wan’s talents occasionally shining through. The film is an awkward mix of slasher moments and ghost-story clichés, topped off with poor acting and amateur dialogue.
THE REEL SCORE: 4/10