Insidious 2: DVD Review
Released by Sony Home Ent
Back in 2011, a low budget shocker emerged which took audiences by storm and grossed returns wildly beyond its budget.
That was Insidious, the story of a family whose child inexplicably drops into a coma and starts shepherding ghosts through astral channels. That ended in somewhat of a cliffhanger with Patrick Wilson's Josh character being in peril and potentially possessed - much to the horror of his wife, Renai.
Insidious Chapter 2 takes up that story, directly after the end of the first; with Rose Byrne's Renai explaining to the police what happened to the medium who died in their home. Both Josh and Renai believe the spirits are still haunting them. Determined to rid the family of this horror, they set out to uncover the secrets which have been plaguing them - but soon, things start to go awry.
Insidious Chapter 2 seems to follow much of a similar pattern to the first film with Wan drawing out moments of creepiness for maximum effect, complete with a blaring soundtrack to point out that SOMETHING REALLY SCARY is about to happen. The problem is that while the eerie and spooky atmosphere works for the most part of the film, the jolts are relatively expected and signposted that you're barely caught on the hop at all. Throw in some occasionally risible dialogue and it really works hard to ensure that you're not on side with it in the slightest. Byrne has little to do except wander about with her mouth permanently agog and the comedy ghostbusters who try to help solve the case are nothing short of irritating and unwarranted in their moments in the script.
There are cliched horror moments aplenty - a stolen glimpse of someone in white when someone turns their head, a piano playing with nobody around, stuff flies around a room etc, but somehow in parts, it seems to work. Add in moments which bring the dread you'd feel as a child in darkened homes, and it's got quite the chance to inveigle its way under your skin. The unsettling atmosphere which shows up from time to time during the chronological shifts back and forth in Josh's history work quite well and Patrick Wilson, along with some impressive make up, does slightly unhinged and on the edge reasonably impressively, with his impassive mug ratcheting up the dread.
It's just a shame that there's a horrendous sense of deja vu in terms of a lack of story / character development and some unanswered questions (such as why a ghost mother dresses her son up as a girl) which leave you scratching your head. Throw into that mix, the fact that you really do have had to have seen the first film to fully appreciate what's going on, and Insidious starts to become a franchise that's really only for its fans rather than open it up to wider audience. Plus a standard final act brings every cliche to the fore.
Though I have to confess, an ending which promises a third film (already in development) does nothing except leave me cold - if the Insidious franchise wants to move forward, it really needs to widen its scope, enrich its mythology and ensure the next one offers up something a little newer and fresher - or this tale of possession will forever by haunted by the promise it failed to fulfil.