'Insidious: Chapter 2' Ratchets Up The Scares And Thrills
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 22:09
This has been a good year for horror fans, particularly those who enjoy movies about possession. That trend has continued with writer-director James Wan’s newest terrifying thriller Insidious: Chapter 2. Fans of the first installment of the Insidious franchise will find a lot of the same elements that captured their attention in the newest film. Wan seems to move in a slightly different direction, however, with the sequel. Where the first film can be easily classified as a horror movie, Chapter 2 is not as simple. There are more than enough scares and jumps to keep the audience screaming, but this time there is an added mystery element that will have audiences watching the screen closely rather than hiding behind their hands.
Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up right where the previous film lets off, providing just enough context for an entirely new audience to come in and still understand what is happening to the poor haunted Lambert family. Though not completely necessary, seeing the first chapter of the series is a good idea for a couple of reasons. Not only does it allow a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the plot, but more simply it’s just a great scary movie. Throughout the film the audience learns more and more about the Lamberts’ past and how the childhood of the main character, Josh Lambert, (Patrick Wilson) is coming back to haunt his family. The beginning of the movie is essentially Josh’s wife Renai (Rose Byrne) trying to cope with the events of the last film while still experiencing strange paranormal events. In spite of the lessons learned from the last film, however, the family seems to keep falling into the same horror movie traps as before.
If the horror genre has taught the world anything, it’s that if you hear something outside of your room at night, you should just stay in bed—you’re better off. Unfortunately for the Lamberts, that does not seem to stop them from exploring every bump or boo that they hear. Obviously, for the movie to exist, the characters need to get into some precarious situations, but sometimes the bad decisions feel repetitive. It seems like over the course of the film the characters keep making the same mistakes, which gets a little frustrating. The most disheartening part is that the film closes with a bit of an easy ending. It seems like Wan just ran out of time to write.
What separates this film from most other horror movies is the way Wan designed and shot it. Wan’s movies are riddled with old-fashioned camera tricks and shots that have been unsettling audiences for decades, and his second Insidious is no different. The movie is actually strikingly beautiful in its cinematography, using the camera to frighten the audience instead of just creepy special effects. In fact, the ghosts and ghouls in this film are not very heavily made-up at all. Wan puts almost no makeup on the villains in Chapter 2, mostly just making them paler. Another unique factor adding to the old-fashioned aesthetic is how much work the music does to boost the tension and disturb the audience. The music of Insidious is possibly Wan’s most effective tool, strategically placed in the most unpleasant scenes for maximum results. With harsh shrieking violins and haunting piano, the barebones style of the scare is exactly what the movie needs to go from just another haunted house movie to one of the most frightening films in recent memory.
Finally, the film triumphs in its ability to transcend the boundaries of the horror genre and move into a thriller murder mystery, enthralling the audience and keeping their undivided attention. Wan shows just how good he is with a terrifying first act, only to close with a gut-wrenching and mentally draining third act, with plenty of scares in between. Though the ending does leave something to be desired, Insidious: Chapter 2 should be commended for the sheer beauty and technical skill involved in its creation. And most importantly, it reaffirms the belief that if you hide under the sheets no ghosts can get you, and who doesn’t want to see that?