“In my line of work, things tend to happen when it gets dark.”
Venture back into the realms of the Further with the next installment of the Insidious franchise.
With Dalton awake again, the Lambert family wants nothing more than to get back to a normal routine and to begin healing in the wake of recent events. The police have questions for Renai about her husband’s role in the death of Elise, the medium who expired during a ritual in the Lambert home only days before. Living temporarily with Josh’s mom, Lorraine, it’s clear the Lamberts are struggling to find their footing when things, once more, begin going bump in the night. Terrorized by what she saw that night, Renai doesn’t recognize the man who calls himself her husband and finds herself unraveling.
Starring Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert, Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert, Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert, Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert, Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier, Leigh Whannell as Specs, Angus Sampson as Tucker, and Tom Fitzpatrick as the Bride in Black, Insidious Chapter 2 is the 2013 supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell.
Although much of the film is set immediately following the events of Insidious, Chapter 2 attempts to fill in some of the backstory of Josh Lambert by jumping (only momentarily) back in time to 1986 when – on one fateful night – Elise Rainier first meets the Lambert family.
I’m immediately overjoyed that the character of Elise is returned – even in this incarnation. Voiced by Lin Shaye in this sequence and performed by Lindsay Seim, the pint-sized dynamo lends a tenacity and sensitivity to the franchise – a presence I was saddened to think had been extinguished at the end of the first film.
But, when I step back from this initial excitement, I see the film for what it is.
Screenwriter Leigh Whannel has bitten off a lot with the follow up – I mean, whoa. There is very little left unanswered from the original film – maybe that’s a blessing for some of you and for others, maybe it will prove a little deflating. For me, it was a slightly depressing mixture of both.
The expectations behind the film are inarguably staggering, especially with James Wan coming off his Summer hit, The Conjuring. But with the film’s composition – one part psychological family drama, one part murder mystery, and the rest a mish-mash of supernatural spiritualism - Insidious Chapter 2 ends up being a largely narrative horror film that probably tries to do too much in it’s scant 105 minute run time.
Don’t get me wrong – I dug it.
The success of the film really lies in its ability to carry out a reasonable follow-up to a largely popular first film – a task that is almost always easier assumed than executed.
Seeking to expand on the events of the first film while filling in some of its blanks, Insidious Chapter 2 is constructing a storyline that may turn into an epic movie going experience. With the filmmakers’ ability to turn small(er) budget films into box office gold, is there any doubt that Insidious may become the next massively-multi-feature-film franchise?
While Whannell is smart enough to give his main characters larger, more robust story arcs to play out, the real question is whether or not Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne would elect to return for another installment.
Byrne’s character Renai figures less largely in the story’s plot line this time around, and enjoys less development. It’s really Wilson who, as a vessel to the Bride in Black, manages to further the overall narrative of Insidious. Wilson is adept and enjoyable to watch as his character begins falling apart before our eyes.
For me, the real joy comes in seeing the return of Lin Shaye as Elise in the Further. The return of the character is fleeting, but gives the audience a satisfying sense of closure and … perhaps … sets the tone for a new beginning?
And it’s true – the red-faced demon (played in the first film by score composer Joseph Bishara) fails to make a physical return, but I wouldn’t bet against his role in the next installment.
While Insidious Chapter 2 is not a fast paced horror film, there are plenty of James Wan’s signature chills to be had throughout. Comparisons to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, I think, are a little too obvious, a little too lazy to be restated here.
James Wan has well established himself in the horror genre, and I believe he is a master at setting tone and creating atmosphere with very little. The ventures into the Further are among my favorite moments in horror cinema. After all, is there anything more terrifying than the idea of being thrown into an infinite, black abyss where time and space are meaningless? Genius, simple, and effective in the extreme.
Performances by Whannell and Sampson (Specs and Tucker) garner laughter throughout the film, helping to lighten the mood and provide breaks in the building tension.
If you’re sensitive to fluid, hand held camera movement, you may find yourself a bit taxed by the cinematography.
All in all, Insidious Chapter 2 is worth the ticket price if for no other reason than to see how everything fits together. But, make no mistake, this is not a stand alone film. It is a bridge. Be sure you want to cross it.
James Wan & Leigh Whannell talk Insidious Chapter 2: