‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ Ditches Darth Maul & Fights The Past (Movie Review)

Insidious Movie Poster TNI can’t help it, but I’m a firm believer that once you strike gold…DON’T be greedy.  I hold that same belief when it comes to 2011’s Insidious (as you can see from my love and praise of it over here).  The movie was a fresh of breath air for the horror genre and despite it’s ultra low budget, it showed the big guys this is how it was done with something most blockbusters lack…a real, compelling story.  I also felt the same way about the film’s ending.  What a bad-a$$ way that was to end it.  However, then came word of a potential sequel and I shuddered in fear.  Why mess with something so brilliant?  Does it really need a sequel?  Of course not!  But this is how it’s done in Hollywood, folks!  It’s not up to you or I.  We know better.  It’s all a money game or should I say grab?  Insidious: Chapter 2, whether I tell you it’s good or bad below, will make money regardless.  That’s a simple well known fact.  It’s an established brand that people love and they are going to go to the theater this weekend whether it’s a green tomato or not.  So whether or not you feel that the now infamous Tiny Tim song should have been recycled for shameless promotion here, Insidious: Chapter 2 is coming to a theater near you this weekend and it’s my job to tell you if you should run or hide or embrace it like you did the original.  Hopefully this review won’t be too scary.  I’ll do my best to align my words with the film’s PG-13 rating and we all know what that means…only one F-bomb!

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The one saving grace I feel the film has going for it right out of the gates is that it’s directed by James Wan and reunites the talented cast from the first film.  The story, conceived by James Wan, was adapted and written into a screenplay once again by Leigh Whannell (who’s also reprising his hilarious character Specs).  And luckily for all of us fans of the original, this one’s a direct sequel too (obviously tackling and addressing that shocking ending in the first one).  Returning for a second time to the Insidious franchise please welcome cast members Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor and Angus Sampson.  Jocelin Donahue, Garrett Ryan and Lindsay Seim portray younger versions of Barbara, Patrick and Lin’s onscreen characters.

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Well I’m sorry, but there’s no easy way to dissect Insidious: Chapter 2 without talking about its predecessor so consider yourself spoiled from here on out if you haven’t seen the first film.  As I mentioned above, this is a direct sequel to the 2011 film and picks up right where we left off…addressing the issue of Elise’s (Shaye) murder, with Renai Lambert (Byrne) fielding questions from a police detective about the incident and that of her reunited husband’s (Josh is portrayed by Wilson) involvement in things.  Meanwhile, we also get to see how it all went down for Josh when he was hypnotized by Elise in the 80‘s to make him forget all about the woman in the black wedding dress that not only haunts his dreams and house, but also appears in every picture you snap of the lad too.  But rest assured, while I won’t spoil anything in regards to this second installment, you better bet your chicken wings that almost every question or curiosity you had about the first film will be answered in a Back to the Future or Saw IIVI (I don’t count the final Saw movie as a film at all) like fashion here.  And whether or not that’s a good thing or not depends upon you.  I’m impartial, but I can’t help feeling that some of the mystique I loved about the first film is now diminished while on the other hand I can’t help feeling isn’t that cool how they literally came full circle with the events of the first film.  So I’ll just avoid that argument all together and just chalk it up to the fact that I mentioned it for informational reasons only so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into here.

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So where was I…oh yeah..the ending of the first Insidious film!  Y’all know what happened, right?  Well let’s just say Josh didn’t come back from “The Further” with just his son, did he?  Hell no!  Something evil came back with him…or did it?  That’s exactly the question and reason why Insidious: Chapter 2 exists, what’s wrong with Josh…AND…they are back aren’t they?  Let’s tackle the Josh thing first.  It was fun seeing Patrick Wilson flex his acting muscles here.  Instead of the stubborn, family man he was in the first film he’s even more stubborn here…BUT there’s a reason!  Yes!  There’s always a reason for stubbornness.  Josh isn’t himself and it shows.  His family fears him and although he does his best to reassure their safety, they ain’t buying it.  Meanwhile, Josh’s mom (Hershey) reunites with Elise’s friend Carl (Coulter) and the dynamic tag team duo (the writers actually) who crack me up (and I don’t care who here does not appreciate humor within a serious horror movie), Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson).  That’s right!  They are back!  And this time not only do they get more screen time, but they mean business!  The Scooby Doo gang set out to find the spiritual whereabout of Elise, who ultimately leads them on a wild ghost filled hunt confronting not only their past, but what still lurks and may have possibly came back out with Josh from “The Further.”  Make sense?  Ah!  Would you see the damn movie already?!!!  Not convinced…then read on!

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So let’s talk about what works here?  I think it’s the chill factor!  The goosebumps as I call them.  More than once I felt them on my arms (and it wasn’t the air conditioner) and I can attribute that to the creepiness factor that had James Wan’s name written all over it.  Let’s face it, the guy knows how to work a budget and stretch a dollar.  And like Quentin to dialog, Wan is a master at creating tension through sheer creepiness, cinematography and environments.  In my opinion, he achieves levels of greatness here.  However, sometimes those levels of greatness are undone by bad dialog or interactions with Carl (in my opinion) and convenient plot devices like let me go to sleep while someone is chopping down the door with an axe and I will see if I can help by using my astral body projection powers.  But those qualms are minor.  So minor in fact, that I enjoyed the hell out of this flick.  I *flipping* (my one F-word due to the PG-13 rating of this review) ate it up like the popcorn that we had sitting on the floor.  Now with that being said, I will issue the following broadcast warning.  If you are not a fan of the first Insidious film, then A) why are you reading this review, B) why are you wasting your time still reading this and C) stay very far away from this one.  While this film is accomplished using different contrived kind of plot devices and locations, it’s still part two to a story that you may or may not like the first time around.  So I guess what I am saying is why would you bother if you hated the first installment?  And I will leave you with the following words of wisdom.  To fight the present sometimes you must confront the past.   Whoa!  That’s stoic huh?  I’m sure only a thousand other people have issued words of wisdom like that.  But how about this one?  There’s nothing after the credits, but I do feel that they truly wrapped this series (the Lambert family problems) up with this chapter and left plenty of wiggle room for growth if people are interested in more.  And why wouldn’t they?  This is modern day horror at its finest?  As long as the series lives on with Wan’s visions (we all know he won’t be directing them anymore), save me seats for future installments.  Enjoy!

Insidious Movie Poster



1 Response to “‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ Ditches Darth Maul & Fights The Past (Movie Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Wow, you weren’t kidding…

    (only Whannel is the writer – Just Specs)