Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) (Minor Spoiler Review)

Spoiler review will be up tomorrow!

**This review contains minor spoilers, no surprises, reveals, or major plot twists are revealed in this review**

Following the events of Insidious, Elise (Lin Shaye) is dead, and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) is the prime suspect in her murder. While the police sweep and inspect the house for clues, Josh, his wife Renai (Rose Byrne), their sons Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor), and their infant daughter move into Josh’s childhood home, which is also his mother Lorraine’s (Barbara Hershey) current home.

But after Renai spots the ghost of a woman, it’s clear The Lambert’s haven’t done enough to distance themselves from The Further. With the help of Carl (Steve Coulter), another paranormal investigator and old friend of Elise, and a returning Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), The Lamberts try to rid themselves of the evil entities, who will stop at nothing to possess their souls and kill anyone, who gets in their way.

Zero complaints from the cast. Insidious was elevated by a handful of strong performances, and nothing changes here, with Rose Byrne taking the honor for the top spot. Also, Whannell and Sampson provided most of the comic relief again, as Tucker and Specs (Tucker and Specs using The Bear VS The Ninja as their version of rock-paper-scissors was hilarious).

I love James Wan, but Chapter 2 is lacking a lot of the atmospheric tension that made Insidious a great film. In Chapter 2, Wan gives you a more thorough and in-depth look at The Further (the spirit world where all the ghosts live). On one hand, giving the audience a step by step walk through for different parts of The Further ties up a lot of loose ends in the original, and it’s a treat for people, who wanted to see more of The Further, because Josh didn’t make the trip into The Further until the very end of the film in part one.

The bad side? The Further is not scary or spooky at all. In Insidious, the less is more approach worked better, because you didn’t see that much of The Further. In Chapter 2, about 80% of the movie takes place in The Further. Sorry, but wooden horses covered in cobwebs, rocking back and forth by themselves, ghosts with pasty make up, and a wrinkly, naked old man (the darkness covers his private parts, but he’s still naked) aren’t scary.

Which brings me to another problem in Chapter 2: too many unintentionally funny moments. The old man repeating “He’s got your baby! He’s got your baby! He’s got your baby!” is the most obvious one you’ve all seen in the trailers and TV spots, and the pale faced woman standing up, turning around, and screaming while pointing is another good example. Specs and Tucker are okay, because they’re supposed to be funny, and add some comedy for breathing room. But everything else is too much, and I can’t count the number of times I laughed, when I wasn’t supposed to.

Insidious had some GREAT, surprising jump scares. Chapter 2? Not so much. Wan’s jump scares were more genuinely shocking the first time around, and you couldn’t see most of them coming. One thing that annoys me to no end about mainstream PG-13 horror films is, the jump scares are so easy to telegraph, and unfortunately, Chapter 2 falls into the same trap.

Although, Insidious Chapter 2 deserves a lot of credit for tying up some loose ends in the first film. I loved the first film, but it’s hard to ignore the “How did that happen?” questions that pop up every now and then. Behind the camera, Wan uses a crafty technique that blends events and footage from the first film into the present during Chapter 2, as Josh tries to retrace his steps in The Further to save his family. Chapter 2 put a lot of effort into filling in some of the holes in original, and I appreciate this approach, because you rarely (if ever) see this type of effort in sequels, especially horror sequels.

Tough rating, because Chapter 2 isn’t good as the original, but it’s not horrible either. And yeah, the cast is a big reason why I won’t go with a negative score here. Is Chapter 2 worse than most horror number twos? No. No it's not, but on the flip side, it’s nothing to brag about either.

By now, I’m sure everyone knows Insidious: Chapter 2 had a strong opening weekend for a low budget horror film, and it’s official now, we’re getting an Insidious 3. Because you know, it made a lot of money, and Hollywood has to milk this franchise for everything it’s worth, right? I threw up in my mouth a little bit, when I read this news, because now, it’s only a matter of time before the Insidious franchise devolves into a mess of shit (i.e. the Saw franchise and Paranormal Activity franchise). Horror franchises don’t get better with more films. Need proof? Just a few modern examples.

Bride Of Chucky
Seed Of Chucky
Halloween: Resurrection
Halloween 2 (2009) (Zombie’s second remake)
Saw 4, 5, 6, & 7
Paranormal Activity 4

Fucking Hollywood.

Rating: 5/10

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