INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2
With everything he does, I become increasingly more impressed with James Wan as a director. He has an instinctive grasp of what makes a horror film work, both in terms of generating psychological dread and dark twists as in Saw or in creating eerie supernatural horror as here and in The Conjuring. Both of these Insidious films come with a constant profusion of genuinely spooky jumps that far outclass almost anything in 90% of the other horror films I would review in a year put together. The Conjuring did very much the same, although the material itself fell into more overly familiar cliche moves that Wan never managed to fully enervate, despite some intensely eerie individual scenes.
The films uncanny atmosphere kicks in from the 1986 prologue with the young Elise visiting the young Josh and conducting a game of hot/cold as to whether there is a presence in the house in a few brief minutes, Wan creates an atmosphere of something unsettling. Subsequently, Wan manages to deliver scene after scene of eerie and unearthly atmosphere with an incredible assurance Rose Byrne following the woman in white through the house; the seance conducted in Elises basement where you are constantly expecting something to happen at any moment; and a particularly spooky scene where one of the boys finds something in the closet is pulling the cord on the can he is talking into. Or the scene where the two investigators enter the Crane household and are greeted by a little girl who urges them to leave If she sees you, shell make me kill you.
Insidious Chapter 2 is less concerned with plotting than it seems to have been construed as a lean and effective horror show designed to spook you at every opportunity. The film creates a double (and at times triple) stranded plot following Rose Byrne in the house, Barbara Hersheys mother and the investigators searching for clues, and in the later sections a strand of plot set in the afterlife with people fighting to stop the menace. Some of the threads feel a little hard to follow I felt confused at some points as to whether it was meant to be Parker Crane, his mother or both of them inhabiting Patrick Wilsons body. The film also goes out on a slingshot ending that proves more annoying than anything else where Wan, Blum and Peli clearly have the intention of turning Insidious into another franchise like their Paranormal Activity series or the series that Saw was spun out into. While the plot is a little ragged sometimes, you cannot deny that James Wan holds up and delivers on the eerie and spooky uncanniness front.
Leigh Whannell took over as director/writer for Insidious Chapter 3 (2015) and this was followed by Insidious: The Last Key (2018).
(Nominee for Best Director (James Wan) at this sites Best of 2013 Awards).