A young family tries to get on with their lives in the wake of haunting and tragedy but things aren’t quite what they seem…
Let me be honest here – I did not love Insidious. The 2011 horror offering from Saw and The Conjuring director James Wan had some fun scares in its opening chapters and looked wonderful for just a $1.5 million budget but I contest that the ending made absolutely, positively, zero sense.
The film went on to gross almost $100 million in theatres, leading to long rumours of a sequel. Finally, Wan and frequent collaborator Leigh Whannell are back with Insidious: Chapter 2.
Right from the off, this sequel expects you to totally suspend your disbelief – mainly due to the fact that the grisly events of the previous film make the relatively calm introduction here positively preposterous.
And it continues very much in that vein. While the first Insidious may have been a serious horror offering for much of its running time, Chapter 2 is totally batshit from the off.
And, somehow, it works. The tone is all over the place, the scares familiar and forced and the storyline and dialogue often remarkably mundane but it never quite detracts from the experience. Once you realise that Wan and co have basically set out to create a comedy, you’ll just have to settle in and enjoy the ride.
There’s physical comedy, uncomfortable jokes and lols to be had at the expense of returning idiot ghostbusters Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). But the star of the show is Patrick Wilson, who really relishes the chance to add some devilish layers to his otherwise dour dad figure, all shot with energy and campy humour by the genre-savvy Wan.
It’s all very crowd-pleasing stuff but the frayed edges do grate. The dialogue is often incredibly basic, though the performances manage to make the most of it. And the main spur of the plot takes far too long to get going, time that’s mainly filled being extra mean to Rose Byrne. Which isn’t nice.
Technically, Wan does great work with a somewhat bigger budget – keeping his camera loose and mobile and playing with less than subtle colours, though it’s a tad more subdued than Insidious. And if he has claimed it’s a more grounded film, that doesn’t stop it from upping the eccentricity in the final act.
In case it’s not clear, I had a whale of a time with Insidious: Chapter 2. It’s slick and silly and has touches of the best of early Sam Raimi about it. But if you go in expecting serious or even effective horror, you’re likely to be disappointed. Fun then, but not at all fearsome.