With not much to be scared of this October, you would think that “Insidious: Chapter 2” would take the opportunity to dominate the Halloween market. Then again, who could turn down a Friday the 13th release? It’s just as scary, right? Unfortunately, it looks like Director James Wan’s scariest offering came even earlier this year.
Picking up directly after the first film, “Insidious: Chapter 2” continues the story oft he Lambert family. Patriarch Josh Lambert has rescued his son from The Further (a sort of afterlife), but something has followed them back. With spirits still haunting them and Josh exhibiting some weird behavior, the Lamberts once again turn to paranormal investigators for help.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” does a fantastic job of interweaving its plot with that of the first film. Character revelations and even the ways that some characters are brought back are incredibly creative. Acting is mostly good, but not noteworthy. Sadly, it doesn’t escape the occasional wooden performance that is all but a guarantee with horror films. The few bits of comedy, which came across as awkward in the first film, are successful here without derailing the tension.
So what’s wrong with this movie? Primarily, it’s just not that scary. The army of extras in bad white makeup is not even remotely intimidating. The anticipation of their arrival is creepy. Wan certainly has a talent for building tension, but the payoff here is rarely worth it. There’s no shortage on jump scares, though whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you. Most are telegraphed or corny, but a few manage a genuine second or two off right.
More than any other movie this year, “Insidious: Chapter 2” is a sequel. That’s not to say that it’s a retread of the first film. Far from it, but you need to have seen the first “Insidious” to really enjoy this one. The interweaving oft he plots that was mentioned earlier? Don’t expect any explanations for it. No one is going to come in and explain why what a character is doing is important. It’s assumed that you’re familiar with the subject matter, for all the good and bad that comes with that. Along that same thread, don’t expect to care about any of these characters if you haven’t seen the first movie. They’re one-dimensional here, merely reprising the roles that you’ve seen before.
It’s difficult to describe “Insidious: Chapter 2” as anything other than a disappointment. As a sequel, it’s good enough. After “The Conjuring,” though, we know that James Wan can do so much better. Add an extra star if you loved, or even just liked, the original. You’ll probably enjoy this quite a bit. For everyone else, there isn’t much to recommend here.