As far as the horror genre goes the last decade has belonged to James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Since 2004 whether individually or as a team, they’ve been kind enough to give us Saw (and the resulting franchise), Dead Silence, the first Insidious as well as The Conjuring. But while that last one may have proved that Wan doesn’t need Whannell to create a box office hit, Insidious: Chapter 2 will remind you why these two make such a great team.
In the wake of the first film the Lambert’s are under scrutiny not just from the police, but from within the family also. [Warning: Spoilers from the first film incoming!] When paranormal expert, psychic and old family friend Elise (Lin Shaye) is found strangled to death in the Lambert homestead the likely explanation is that man of the house Josh (Patrick Wilson) is the culprit. His wife Renae (Rose Byrne) though declaring his innocence to the authorities, has doubts of her own that the man before her is actually even still her husband.
It’s been three years since Insidious first graced our theatres but you wouldn’t know it to look at this film. Without missing a beat Wan has recaptured the tone and atmosphere of the original . Chapter 2 itself picks up right where Insidious left off, beginning just hours after the events of is predecessor and it’s really quite startling how perfectly everything has clicked back into place. It wasn’t until after much reflection that it occurred to me that even the children, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor) don’t seem to have aged at all in the past three years.
With Dalton safe from the red-face demon: the protagonist of the first film, Insidious: Chapter 2 is free to explore the mysterious Black Bride who, we learned last time around, is a spirit that has long desired to steal Josh’s body for her own. And while it may initially seem that there’s just ghost after random ghost still tormenting this family, unlike in the first film where a variety of different spirits all happened to be in the same place, this time each spectre we come across is tied masterfully into a single back-story thanks to a well-crafted narrative.
The script itself has plenty of Whannell’s familiar brand of comedy with both Specs and Tucker (Whannell and Angus Sampson respectively) returning as comic relief but unfortunately in the moments devoid of humour or scares, the script is a touch weak. More than a few times the dialogue is littered with unnecessary words – in some cases enough to completely kill a punch line or ruin an otherwise great moment. It wasn’t just once I found myself cringing.
Luckily though this is easily overlooked as the film progresses and we find the events of the first film inexplicably occurring simultaneously with the events of the second. This may sound a little odd, but again the narrative saves the day.
In the end, though you’ll probably still get a few good scares, if you’ve not seen 2010’s Insidious you’re not going to get a lot out of this film. Similarly if you didn’t like 2010’s Insidious this won’t change your mind. But if you don’t fit into either of the above categories stop wasting time and get down to the cinemas now.