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Movie Review: 'Insidious: Chapter 2'

Insidious Chapter 2

Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey
Directed by James Wan
Rated PG-13

James Wan captured my attention with The Conjuring, a movie that I may have loved a little too much.  Whatever, I don’t care, it’s really good.  Then I heard the news that Wan was jumping into the directors chair for the next Fast & Furious film, which after seeing The Conjuring, set my mind at ease over how that series was going to turn out after the departure of Justin Lin.  But Wan had one more horror offering before going off to make some serious coin with the F & F franchise and while it took me a few seconds to connect the dots linking Wan with Insidious, I was still excited to see what he brought to the table with this sequel.

Insidious, which came out in 2010 was a surprise hit and given it’s really small budget, came out making a ton of money.  Insidious, while not being the greatest horror movie in the world, did offer up enough for me to want to review Insidious Chapter 2.  What would make this experience different though is suddenly realizing how good Wan can be not only with his camera work, but how he could maximize and keep a horror film moving along without out suddenly becoming tiring or redundant, all things he showed me with The Conjuring.  But just like what happens in Insidious, I’m beginning to question if this was directed by the real James Wan or by an evil spirit taking over James Wan’s body, because Insidious: Chapter 2 is kind of a big mess.

The film begins after the events of the first one, directly following the events that happened at the end of Insidioius.  The Lamberts, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) are living with Josh’s mom Lorraine (Barbara Hershey).  Dalton (Ty Simpkins) seems to be okay, but questions, not only by the police but by Renai, still surround Josh and what happened with Elise (Lin Shaye).  But the paranormal events that began in the first film still surround the family and Josh isn’t acting like himself, in fact, he’s acting like a man possessed.  Lorraine contacts Specs (Leigh Whannell, who also co-wrote the scipt) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) to help figure out why evil spirits are still haunting them.  But Josh and Lorraine hold a secret about their past that is causing this disruption.  So contact Carl (Steve Coulter), an old acquaintance of Elise, who holds information regarding not only Josh’s past, but how to contact Elise and help the real Josh, who may still be stuck in the “Furthur”.

First of all, the dialogue in this sequel seems to be about 10 times worse than the original.  There are lines said that had the audience I saw the movie with, laughing.  It’s a shame no one on the filmmaking side noticed that in lieu of really shitty dialogue, it would have been more effective to not say anything at all.  When you’re going for scares, you can’t have the audience laughing at your poor attempt at conversation.  Specs and Tucker also don’t help the movie out either.  As the comic relief, which isn’t really needed, it again just pulls you out of the movie. And since their characters don’t really offer anything substantial to the movie, it would’ve been better to leave them out all together.

But the real problem with Insidious: Chapter 2 seems to rest with Wan and a story that at times feels not at all like a horror movie, but one of those good husbands gone bad movies you see on Lifetime.  Wan, instead of trying to push his creativity that was so proudly on display with The Conjuring, instead relies on old standard scares and music to make you aware something scary is going to happen.  While that may satisfy a lot of horror genre fans, knowing that he can do better work, I couldn’t give him a pass on that one, even if it falls in line with the first film.    Maybe Wan was only doing this sequel as a favor and his heart just wasn’t in it, deciding to just go through the motions laid out in a how the make a horror movie guide. The movie also doesn’t really offer up many scares, maybe one or two good ones… actually more like one.  And the entire time watching the movie, I couldn’t get over how un-horror movie like it was, maybe that was just me.  But even when Wan is just going through the motions, there is still enough here to keep you somewhat engaged in what may be forthcoming, but any potential the movie has gets squashed by a script that needed a few more re-writes.

The movie sets itself up for another film and from what I’ve heard Wan won’t be returning.  I don’t know if doing a third movie is a good idea, but in the right hands, they could do something interesting.  I also said that about Paranormal Activity and look at how those are turning out, so maybe it’s best to just leave this series alone.

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