Insidious: Chapter 2
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My pre-viewing expectations for Insidious: Chapter 2 were pretty abysmal. My fears first and foremost stemmed from it being a horror sequel from studio Blumhouse Productions, known for milking a franchise for every possible cent, which, while being a brilliant marketing strategy, sometimes sacrifices quality in favor of quantity. But Insidious: Chapter 2 excels not only by being genuinely frightening, but in areas horror movies aren’t particularly known for being fantastic in, such as scripting, storytelling, and perhaps most foreign to the genre, acting (yay Patrick Wilson!). I say this a lot, but this time I absolutely mean it: Chapter 2 is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time.
The plot refreshingly continues right where the first one left off without any bizarre location, genre, or cast changes in between. When was the last time that happened? In light of the recent supernatural events in the first Insidious (you actually need to be familiar with the events of the first to fully enjoy the second, which is crazy) the Lambert family relocates while the father Josh (Wilson) is accused of murdering a fallen main character from the original.
Unfortunately his wife Renai (Rose Byrne), mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), and kids (Andrew Astin and original film’s star Ty Simpkins) don’t recognize their father’s deteriorating physical and mental state. A womanlike figure from the Further, a horrific alternate reality home to terrifying spirits, has taken over his body in the real world, trapping Josh in the Further. The spirit gradually becomes stronger and, using Josh’s body, targets everyone close to him.
I saw this movie opening night in a theater in North Philly, so yeah, the crowd’s reaction was loud. Possibly the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd get. Maybe it was the tumultuous reaction to almost everything that happened on the screen that stressed me out, but I don’t want to detract from the fact that out of all the horror films I’ve seen in 2013, this one scared me the most by far.
The film’s first of many horror sequence begins when Renai, distracted by the phone, walks past the womanlike figure (later we learn she’s known as The Dark Bride) sitting in the corner of the room, visible for a split second before the camera pans past her. As soon as Renai hangs up she notices the woman freely walking through her house, and a sprawling chase scene highlighted by a chilling off-screen monologue ensues. Most effective is the fact that it takes place in broad daylight, a daring move on the part of director James Wan. I got shivers just thinking about it.
Even the story is believable. The opening scene shows Josh as a young kid experiencing one of his first glimpses into the Further, explaining loose ends in the first film and setting up a backstory for the second. As the story progresses so does Josh’s descent into insanity, which Patrick Wilson plays wonderfully. The whole movie is built around the moments where he can finally flash his Psycho/Joker smile. If you don’t like horror it’s worth paying the full ticket price for anyway.
To the shock and horror of no one, a third chapter of Insidious has already been confimred. It wouldn’t be a Blumhouse movie without a sequel. With Chapter 2 seemingly wrapping up one major arc and opening the doors to another, hopefully Chapter 3 will further the success of what is becoming one of my favorite horror sagas.