Insidious: Chapter 2
James Wan's horror sequel is packed with scares but scuppered by convoluted plotting
The original Insidious was one of the better supernatural thrillers of late, at least until the first hour of sober suburban horror gave way to a wild and woolly exploration of the astral plane known as the Further. Although the notion of a haunted child was treated with considerable seriousness, the rapid escalation into ghost-train scares for the climax left nowhere for a sequel to go but even further over-the-top.
Writer/director James Wan graduated to an even bigger hit with The Conjuring this summer, so returning to the multiple universes of Insidious seems like something of a backward step. Insidious Chapter 2 sees John and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) seeking refuge with his mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) after the traumatic events of the first film. Their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is still a target for evil spirits, and eccentric ghost-busters Specs and Tucker (co-writer Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson) are called in again to try to rid the family of the unwelcome attention from the demons who seek passage into our world.
Both Insidious films benefit from a rare sense of high seriousness in the central plot, balanced by regular busts of comic relief from Specs and Tucker, but the formula is considerably less successful this time around. The rules governing the astral plane of The Further have become more complex and the backstory explaining why the Lamberts are being haunted has become more convoluted, leaving Wan’s sequel considerably less grounded in any kind of recognizable reality that the first chapter. The shakes and scares are still there, and it’s worth noting that Wan’s genre films have a grip on tension that most horror directors can only dream of, but sadly the Insidious franchise isn’t heading anywhere interesting for anyone other than hardcore fans.
General release from Fri 13 Sep.