Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: M – Supernatural themes and violence
Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert
Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert
Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert
Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
Steven Coulter as Carl
Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert
Leigh Whannell as Specs
Angus Sampson as Tucker
Director: James Wan
Josh Lambert and his family relocate to his mother’s old house in the hopes of recovering from past trauma. However, they soon encounter strange and chilling paranormal events.
After the success of Insidious in 2010 and its cliffhanger ending, a sequel was inevitable. It seems that the films following the original weren’t that well received, even the immediate follow up by original director James Wan. However, I quite liked it.
Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up right after the first movie, so I don’t recommend watching the two movies too far apart. The story for the most part is good enough and paced steadily. There are two plotlines going on, one focussing on the main Lambert family with Josh being possessed by a demon, and the other following the characters played by Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as they investigate the demon. I found myself more interested in the latter plotline; it was interesting learning about the backstory. The Lambert family plotline had potential; Josh’s mind getting hijacked was interesting, but I felt that it could’ve been handled better. It mainly consists of haunting occurrences and jumpscares, and not much else. One thing I do like about Chapter 2 is how it continues the story instead of just rehashing the stuff in the first film. It builds on the first movie and fleshes out the story and backstory, provides context, and ties up the loose ends. Much like Insidious and much of James Wan’s other movies, the third act goes over the top and it is a little silly, but that’s to be expected. Chapter 2 isn’t without its issues. More so than the first movie, it falls into some horror cliches. Some of the dialogue is a little clunky, whether it be with some of the exposition or the comedy. While there was a good balance with its humour and scares in the first movie, Chapter 2 is a tonally unbalanced at points. The biggest issue though comes as a result as one of its biggest strengths. While it gives a lot of answers, it takes away from the feeling of the unknown and therefore much of the unsettling feeling is rather lacking. The more that is explained, the less scary it becomes. Finally, there’s a plot twist in the third act which is dated, at the very least.
Like with the first movie, the acting and character development is particularly good. Rose Byrne is believable in her part, and the movie even finds a way to bring Lin Shaye back to reprise her role of Elise, especially given that she was the standout character in the first movie. There’s also more screentime for the comic relief provided by Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson, as they are more heavily involved with the plot. The standout performance however is from Patrick Wilson, mainly because his character of Josh is now possessed by a demon, giving him the opportunity to really ham it up. He’s great, and one of my bigger complaints is that we don’t get to see as much of this throughout the movie. He really gets to shine in the third act, but I wish the descent into madness got more screentime.
James Wan’s direction once again is solid. There’s some memorable and haunting imagery, good production design, and some solid thrills. The sound mixing is superb, and Joseph Bishara’s score continues to be unnerving. It builds ominous tension over time, and you feel it mostly in the first half. While it is a more polished movie, I think the previous movie did a better job at generating the atmosphere. There are plenty of jumpscares throughout, I think they are fine, but they are a little hit or miss and aren’t nearly as effective as the last movie.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is good continuation and is almost on a similar level of the previous movie, with strong direction and good performances. It is a more polished movie and is more complete storywise, but I think the first film is slightly better if only for the atmosphere and tension it generated. Still, worth checking out if you enjoyed the first Insidious.