"Insidious: Chapter 2" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
James Wan's box-office hit, "Insidious", left off on a major cliffhanger, bringing a surprise twist that audiences didn't see coming. Fans didn't know what to think or expect if there was a sequel, which Wan delivered three years later. Making fans wait for three years to find out what happened to characters they care about is usually a gamble - if the film flops, it can ruin your career. However, luckily for Wan, he delivered a sequel that was perhaps better than its predecessor on many different aspects, and delivered a more cohesive film that explains a lot of the lackluster story elements from the first film.
The movie seamlessly picks up right where the first film left off, with Josh (Patrick Wilson) being possessed by the evil woman that has haunted him his whole life and killing the paranormal expert, Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). However, he tries his best to keep it hidden from his wife, Renai (Rose Byrne), who is still reeling from the events of the first movie. However, when terrifying and spooky things are still happening around the house, it scares the family and makes them wonder why ghosts are still lingering around their family.
At the same time, Josh's soul is stuck in the Further, and with the help of the recently deceased Dr. Rainer, and her colleague, Carl (Steve Coulter), he tries to find a way to get back to his family. However, when there are more sinister things at hand, he must defeat the evil demons that have haunted him all his life, as well as his family having to try and survive while they wait for Josh to return to them.
On a story level, this movie is widely better than the picture that came before it. The first time we saw these characters, the story felt like it was all over the place and put in these laughable fantasy elements that really took away the terror from what they were trying to set up. This time around, however, they are able to stick with one storyline and plot and keep progressing it further, while also doing a fantastic job of building up the terror and suspense.
Speaking of the scariness level, I think it surpasses the horror from the first movie. Sure, both have jump scares and other horror elements that stick with the viewer as the credits roll, but the jump scares in this one were more shocking and caught even me off-guard a couple of times. At the same time, the imagery and the elements of horror in the movie were more frightening and suspenseful, and didn't nearly fall into the realm of parody like last time.
I think Wilson's performance in this movie is fantastic. He does a great job of playing the charming husband that wants to save his family, but it seems like he is instantly able to switch to that terrifying spirit that is inhabiting his body throughout the movie. He really shows all of the range he has and is capable of, which is very impressive considering how the performances were in the first movie. The other actors give the same type of performance as they did in the original, which weren't bad but weren't great at the same time. Wilson definitely outshines the other actors and I wish we saw more of the possessed character he portrayed. However, on a side note, Tom Fitzpatrick does an amazing job of playing the devilish woman in black. For the scenes he was in, I applaud his performance and his dedication.
While the first film, released in 2010, focused more on the horror and terrifying aspect of the ghosts, the movie was able to take that same horrifying aspect and combine it with a great and compelling story. Sure, there are factors that could have been changed and was flawed in some ways, but I think as a whole, it is hard to not applaud Wan and his efforts in crafting a better film than the one he released three years before this movie.
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