wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?) - If you've watched the first film, you probably will be keen!
James Wan returns with Insidious Chapter 2, and he bumps up the game from the first film, even if he doesn't quite recreate the thrills of The Conjuring, which came earlier this year. Still, Wan's growing ease with the genre and a truly interesting take on the narrative gives the sequel more than a point or two over the original.Read more
James Wan's 2011 film Insidious had ended on a terrific note; a thrilling post-climactic twist that was worth almost as much as the entire film itself. The haunting woes of Josh Lambert and his family may not have been particularly scary, but it made for a taut little thriller that stayed with you. Now, two years later, and after getting that other excellent thrill-fest, The Conjuring, between himself and the first film, Wan is back with the sequel.
Insidious Chapter 2 picks up almost immediately where the first film left off - the very next day, in fact. And this time, the film deals as much with Josh Lambert's past, as it does with his present and future...
James Wan is slowly turning out to be a master of the horror-thriller genre. The instant difference that one can spot between Insidious and its sequel is Wan's maturity as a director. Of course, my personal pick out of his filmography still remains The Conjuring, but Insidious Chapter 2 is one of those rare sequels that effortlessly go notches above their predecessors, in virtually every department.
What most films of this genre tend to mess up is the reason for the haunting. Clearly, Wan has figured out that the key to a successful supernatural story is the explanation behind the supernatural phenomena. Every film of his has the unmistakable aura of effort put in to crack a convincing backstory, and it shows in the manner in which he manages to always make you suspend your disbelief and get sucked in to the world of the paranormal.
Also, while the first film introduced us to The Further - a dark, parallel realm that is inhabited by beings that yearn to be alive but aren't - the second film takes the concept of The Further, further. In doing so, Wan and co-writer Leigh Whannell also beautifully play with space and time - and this is precisely the best part of the film; what makes it a tremendous step up from Insidious. Needless to say, watching the sequel without watching the first film will be quite pointless.
The cast of the first film - Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye and Barbara Hershey amongst others - reprise their roles, and adequately lift their performances to go with the film. Patrick Wilson, in particular, really knocks it out of the park with his intensity and mystery that he infuses into the character of Josh Lambert.
Also, young Ty Simpkins - who earlier taught Tony Stark a lesson or two in this year's summer blockbuster Iron Man 3 - returns as Josh's son Dalton, and it is refreshing to see a child in a horror film do something other than just be the manifestation or target of the haunting.
What one misses in Insidious, as opposed to say Saw or The Conjuring, is a distinct sense of atmosphere that departs from a generic horror film feel. The Conjuring, in particular, scored so heavily, largely because of its grainy, period feel and the production design that complemented it so well. The Insidious films seem to rely more on conventional methods of scaring the audience, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
A tighter, sharper, smarter thriller than the first film, Insidious Chapter 2 makes you glad that Wan decided to not just revisit the story, but to turn the page as well.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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