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Insidious: Chapter 2 (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

Insidious: Chapter 2


Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Steve Coulter, Andrew Astor, Hank Harris, Jocelin Donahue, Lindsay Seim, Danielle Bisutti, Tyler Griffin, Garrett Ryan and Tom Fitzpatrick.

Screenplay by Leigh Whannell.

Directed by James Wan.

Distributed by FilmDistrict. 105 minutes. Rated PG-13.

The original Insidious film in 2011 was a low-budget sleeper hit. So it is not all that surprising that a couple of years later the second film appears, apparently with an eye on becoming a long running horror franchise. Particularly when you consider that the writer (Leigh Wannell) and director (James Wan) of Insidious also created the long-running Saw franchise, which spawned seven films between 2004 and 2010.

What is a pleasant surprise is how much thought was put into the continuation of this tale, unlike Saw, which just used the same tricks ratcheted up for violent effect over and over in the sequels. Perhaps this is because Wan and Wannell returned for this continuation (they jumped ship after the first Saw movie). Perhaps it is because Wan has become a first-class horror director in the years since his Saw breakthrough. Perhaps it was just that they tried to give nuance to the original story, rather than cynically repeating the first film.

Whatever the reason, Insidious: Chapter 2 feels like a very fitting continuation of the saga.

In fact, it is very specifically that: a continuation. Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up the story moments after the first film's action. It continues the story and in imaginative ways it periodically doubles back on the action to see scenes we experienced in the first movie shown from a different perspective.

Therefore, while it is not necessary to have seen the first Insidious to enjoy the second, it is certainly helpful.

And while Insidious: Chapter 2 loses many of the fresh chills of its predecessor, it does come up with some lively ways to continue the story.

Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) have literally just finished fighting off the demons in their home as Insidious: Chapter 2 begins. However, the first film ended on the reveal that Josh had apparently been possessed by the main demon.

The second film revolves around some new sets – Josh's boyhood home, an abandoned mental hospital – but it mostly spends its time having the others slowly realize there is something very wrong with dad. In the meantime the real Josh is stuck in limbo, trying to find a way to get back and save his family from himself.

While Insidious: Chapter 2 is not up to the standards of the other ghost story released this summer by James Wan and Patrick Wilson – The Conjuring – it does wrangle up some significant thrills.

Insidious: Chapter 2 then closes out with a tag scene which is undoubtedly setting up a whole new storyline for the inevitable Chapter 3. I'm not sure that it is a wise move to turn this series into an ongoing franchise which is only linked thematically and by a few characters like Saw or Paranormal Activity. Insidious: Chapter 2 mostly works because we have met and grown fond of these characters, they are not just generic spook bait. However, it would be naive to think that Hollywood will not try to milk every cent they can get from the series, so just enjoy the originals while you can.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved. Posted: September 13, 2013.

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