The Lambert family needs a break. At the climax of Insidious, patriarch Josh (Patrick Wilson) brought son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) back from convoluted plot point the Further – where the astral projections of small children meet and mingle with spectres of death eager to nick their bodies while they nip out for a bit.
Did Josh make it out or did something else come back instead?
The first film’s shock ending suggested that the spirit which haunted Josh as a child was in the driver’s seat, killing ghost whisperer Elise (Lin Shaye) in a rage before scaring the bejesus out of his wife Renai (Rose Byrne).
Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up the story straight away, evaporating hopes of a gradual build-up of chills in favour of a supernatural mystery which delves into the identity of the old woman who insidiously (see what we did there?) hijacked Josh’s body.
After a flashback to Elise’s first encounter with Josh and a present-day police grilling on the trifling matter of her death, we see the Lambert’s back together and living at grandma Lorraine’s (Barbara Hershey) house. The baby monitor’s barely unpacked for five minutes before Renai’s hearing voices and seeing manifestations which are somehow connected to the spirits plaguing the family.
Credit where it’s due to director James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) and screenwriter Leigh Whannell (Saw, Dead Silence); Insidious is not a franchise which relies on gore for cheap thrills but on disturbing and unsettling imagery, sounds and antagonists. The pair has found an interesting if cliché niche, which allows them to pay homage to haunted house movies, the most obvious being Poltergeist, while saying something new. Where they do misstep in the sequel is hamming things up way too much to be taken seriously.
Be under no illusion that Insidious: Chapter 2 is a very silly film, with silly dialogue and silly over-the-top setups which do kind of follow on from the original but lack its subtlety. The actors themselves are likeable enough and no matter how ludicrous things get as a horror vehicle, there are always laughs to be found. Any scene with Patrick Wilson, for instance – his every move screams ‘I am the baddie.’
If you bought into the final act of Insidious then you’ll do well with its sequel. However if you found the idea of The Further, astral projections and Darth Maul demons just a little bit on the silly side you may not enjoy Insidious: Chapter 2 in the way it intends.
Something tells me that we haven’t seen the last of this universe so brace yourselves for an inevitable Chapter 3.