Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
★ / ★★★★
Though Josh (Patrick Wilson) has succeeded in getting his son (Ty Simpkins) back from the spirit world via astral projection, something else has found its way into Josh’s body and it intends to stay there. So, Josh finds himself stuck in the other realm as if he were one of the dead. His wife, Renai (Rose Byrne), suspects that the man in front of her may not really be her husband after he fails to recognize a song she has written for him. To top it off, her fears are amplified due to the ghostly occurrences beginning to unfold in the house.
“Insidious: Chapter 2,” based on the screenplay by Leigh Whannell, is a witless, humorless, uncreative, and messy would-be horror movie. I was astonished that this embarrassing wreckage is from the mind of the same person who wrote the suspenseful, eerie, genuinely scary predecessor. Even though the first picture ended in a cliffhanger, a sequel should not have been made because there was no script worth putting into celluloid.
If there is one word to describe the film, it would be “reaching.” As in: the movie is constantly reaching for something that simply isn’t there. The supposed scares lack energy and a sense of timing—two key qualities to pull off an adequate horror film. As a result, every attempt to “scare” the audience is so dull to have to sit through.
It throws everything at us: an entity playing the piano when one is alone in the house, something suddenly moving while one explores a dark room, a malicious voice being heard through the baby monitor. And though these things can work if used wisely and sparingly, showing them one right after another communicates nothing but a desperation to impress. I wasn’t impressed. It bored me.
The characters are now aware of the nature of what they are dealing with so suspense and mystery are no longer present. We are asked to do nothing but anticipate how they react. It does not help that there is a strictly enforced formula to the scares as well as in the unveiling of revelations. It is like having to sit through a joke we’ve heard before… only this person is not telling it very well. If the material had been smarter or if the writer had been more ambitious, it ought to have had some kind of a spin with respect to the characters being more aware of what they are fighting against. Instead, it settles for less than mediocrity and just about everything about the picture feels interminable and desultory.
To add insult to injury, the sequel connects one of the most terrifying encounters in “Insidious” into its veins. It feels so forced—something that comes right out of those cheap, badly made, insulting sequels to James Wan’s “Saw” and Oren Peli’s “Paranormal Activity.” Is this what commercial horror has been reduced to—“connecting” events with its predecessors to appear “intelligent” or “creative”? I find it disgusting, lazy, and insulting.
It is clear that “Insidious: Chapter 2” is not director James Wan’s finest effort. There is nothing to see here unless one is interested in sifting through distractions and clichés. A litmus test on whether or not a scary movie is effective: if you come out of it more frustrated than uneasy to be in your house alone, it has fundamentally failed to do its job.