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Insidious 2

2013-11-15 09:56
Insidiious 2
What it's about:

Picking up immediately after the events of the first film, we once again find the Lambert family trying to deal with malicious spirits as they uncover connections to their own past and the ghosts that haunt them.

What we thought:

Coming hot on the heels of director James Wan's own The Conjuring, it's hard to get past the feeling that even Wan doesn't really see the point in a sequel to Insidious.

The Conjuring may fit into much the same genre, indeed the same sub-genre, as the Insidious films and it may have plundered freely from many often better horror films from the last five decades or so, but it at least found Wan on noticeable revitalized form as the film had a vitality and freshness – not to mention creepiness - that so many modern horror films so sorely lack. It was probably the best horror flick he has done yet and indicated that there might actually be some life left in the old haunted house sub-genre.

Sadly, Insidious Chapter 2 is every bit the tired, shameless cash-in that its title would suggest - utterly lacking in any of the scary energy that Wan brought to his last film – or even this film's own flawed but decent predecessor. If The Conjuring looked to the past to point towards the future, Insidious Chapter 2 does nothing but look back at the many better films that came before it.

Considering, his experience in and obvious love for the horror genre, Insidious Chapter 2 is, if nothing else, very competently put together and is decidedly less terrible than some of the truly horrid horror films that come out these days. If nothing else, I'm kind of glad that we're getting this sort of horror film, rather than the vacuous nastiness of the “torture porn” craze that followed in the wake of Wan's directorial debut, Saw.

It has a boatload of problems but at least Insidious: Chapter 2 does have two very good actors at its center (Patrick Wilson, especially, is clearly having a whale of a time), as well as an enjoyable enough story that may be derivative and anything but unpredictable but does get more and more pleasingly bonkers as it goes along.

For a horror film though, decent acting, solid directing and a basically enjoyable mystery story can't make up for how stubbornly the film refuses to engage the audience throughout most of its running time. The first two thirds of the film are simply boring with any attempts at creepiness, let alone genuine scares, falling flat on their collective faces as the quietquietquietquietBOO! method of “horror scares” and the hilariously manipulative musical cues that comes with it are, at best, laughable, at worst, unbearably tedious, even annoying.

There is, I suppose, some effort made to create tension and a sense of unease but, unlike something like The Conjuring, such efforts never translate into much more than a lethargic pace and a blandly unappealing tone.

Unlike the first film, however, where it really went off the rails in its final act with its Darth Maul-like baddies and silly, quasi-spiritual mumbo jumbo, Insidious Chapter 2 actually picks up steam when it enters the very same “Spirit World” (this time mercifully free of sub-Star Wars baddies). By this point, any attempts at actual horror quickly fall by the wayside and a surprisingly romping bit of daft, time-travel-inflected fantasy comes in to take its place. It's obviously a terrible ending for what is ostensibly a horror film, but its dimension-hopping, character-switching, time-shifting lunacy is by far the most enjoyable part of the film.

Sadly, though I think Wilson and Byrne are probably done with the franchise – as is, presumably James Wan who is going on to direct, of all things, the next Fast and Furious film (now with 100% more Jason Statham!) - the ending of the film does leave the door wide open for further chapters. And if there is one thing that Insidious: Part Meh has taught us is it's that this is a franchise that really should have ended at chapter one.

It's not without its humble pleasures, but this dreary, often boring and always tired horror sequel is strictly for die-hard fans only.
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