Insidious Chapter 2 Director: James Wan
Screenwriter: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey, Jocelin Donahue, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Andrew Astor, Lindsay Seim Blumhouse Productions
Rated PG-13 | 105 Minutes
Release Date: September 13, 2013
Directed by James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring) and written by Leigh Whannel (Saw), Insidious Chapter 2 is the Back to the Future II of horror films, just replace time travel with astral projection and spirit possession.
Insidious Chapter 2 crisscrosses with the continuity of Wan’s 2011 film, meaning some of the weird, unexplainable moments in Insidious are actually caused by events that take place in Chapter 2.
Before we see what happens after Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) rescues his son Dalton from the spirit realm, we travel back to 1986 and meet Josh as a child. His mother (Jocelin Donahue, The House of the Devil) enlists the help of Elisa (Lindsay Seim), a young clairvoyant who wipes his memory of his ability to astral project.
Cut to the present, moments after the first film’s conclusion. Josh’s wife Renai (Rose Byrne) is questioned by the detective assigned to figure out who murdered Elise (Lin Shaye). It appears her husband Josh is the prime suspect.
Paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson) return to help the Lamberts uncover a mysterious childhood secret that has Josh and his family dangerously connected to “The Futher” – a place for the tormented souls of the dead.
While the police are investigating Elise’s murder, the family moves into Josh’s childhood home with his mother (Barbara Hershey). Things are going great until Josh starts behaving strangely and Renai has unsettling visions of spirits lingering about the house. As their father slowly descends into madness, the family begins to wonder if Josh came back, or if something lurking in the Further possessed him.
Insidious Chapter 2 could have been just another horror sequel that replicated the basic template of its predecessor, but instead it decides try new things – goes in a new direction – while building upon the continuity of the series.
James Wan certainly knows how to manipulate a horror audience – his films have been some of the better spook shows in recent memory – but after releasing two major horror films in the span of two months, it’s hard not to compare Insidious Chapter 2 with July’s The Conjuring – considering it’s another supernatural scary movie starring Patrick Wilson and paranormal investigators.
The difference in the two films, though, is the tone. Sure, Insidious Chapter 2 has scary moments – but it isn’t a straightforward horror film in the way The Conjuring is. Chapter 2 is spooky fun – its intention isn’t to scare the bejesus out of you but rather invite you into a dark, creepy world of ghosts and ghouls – a haunted house attraction that both scares and excites.
I feel like The Conjuring could be the Indiana Jones of horror – with Ed and Lorraine investigating supernatural occurrences across the world, collecting haunted artifacts. If that’s the case, Insidious is very much the horror genre’s Back to the Future – expanding its own mythology while deepening it with intersecting stories.
I’m willing to bet Wan and Whannell revisit this series and cap off the trilogy with a third chapter that goes off in another, equally intriguing direction. If you liked the first Insidious, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Chapter 2 – a film that doesn’t settle for being just another stale sequel. It’s funny and macabre and filled with lush, horrific imagery – and Jocelin Donahue is in it… what more could you possibly want?