Following on from the events of the first film, the Lambert family looks into the secret of why they’re haunted, while things are disquieting on the home front.
James Wan, 2013
This movie begins where the first film ended, and its climax weaves through the story of the first film and goes back to Josh Lambert’s (Patrick Wilson) childhood as it draws the family’s story towards its conclusion. Renai (Rose Byrne) is once again tormented by spirits who come when she’s left alone with the kids (why is she left alone with the kids after what’s happened? WHY?), but this is now compounded by her husband not quite being who he appears to be. Her son Dalton, meanwhile, has to face his own spirits and find his courage as a long-buried secret threatens to tear the family apart. Josh’s mother Lorraine investigates the reasons for their family’s ghostly problems, and at the last minute
a deus ex machina an old friend comes back to give them a hand.
This film falls victim to its own premise; as it follows directly on from the first film, it doesn’t have much of an opportunity for a slow burn. The best thing this movie really has going for it is an impressive double performance from Patrick Wilson. He’s all dead eyes and creepy smiles in one role and hunky caring the next; it gives the film its only gravitas. I would have liked to see Renai figure out that her husband wasn’t himself, rather than the convaluted path this film takes with its reveals. Watching Barbara Hershey bumble around scary buildings with professional camera-holders and bumblers Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson (Elise’s assistants from the first film) while they slog through the jump-scary exposition about the bad guys is generally more annoying than genuinely disturbing. There’s also a nasty little sexist twist that grates on the nerves in this film (Whannell and Wan must have some serious mother issues going on).
The film does improve slightly once it gets moving in the final act, with the real world and the Further (the in-universe spirit world) interacting on a whole new level. Unfortunately there aren’t any ghosts as scary as the smilers from the first film, and Steve Coulter’s Carl isn’t a patch on Lin Shaye’s Elise, which turns out not to be too much of a problem anyway. The girl they got to play young Elise, Lindsay Seim, is a ringer for Shaye, and gets her mannerisms down pat, which is a lot of fun in the flashbacks. The filmmakers think they’re cleverer than they are, though, with the creepy villain from the end of the first film turning out to be essentially just another serial killer rather than the scary spirit it once was. Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey get little to do but react and be scared – again – and there are some very creepy connotations of spousal abuse, even though that isn’t what’s really happening. Overall the film is kind of a mess held together by constant jump scares rather than cohesive plot.
Insidious: Chapter 2 on IMDb