Why Insidious 2 is Kinda Awesome

1

“Too much foreplay, not enough action”

Horror movies all seem to have fallen prey to the same problem in recent years: shooting their load too quickly. This has made it very hard to make a sequel that can stand up to the first instalment in any way – take Paranormal Activity for instance. Once you’ve seen the girl get dragged down a hallway by an invisible demon once, seeing it again in a sequel just isn’t the same and it instantly detracts from the suspense leaving you less gripped and, ultimately, less scared. Now, Paranormal Activity also took a different approach to its many sequels in that they attempted to expand the story, and this is the approach Insidious: Chapter 2 has also taken; only they seemed to have done a better job of it. To continue the metaphor, they haven’t quite shot all their load yet.

Potential spoilers follow.

We begin in Insidious: Chapter 2 only hours after the events of the first film where the characters are left to deal with the fallout and try to explain to the authorities what the hell went on, without being taken away by the men in white coats. As I previously mentioned, this film aims to expand the story from the first, particularly the story of Patrick Wilson’s character, Josh Lambert.  The first film showed us that Josh and his son Dalton have the ability to astral project, meaning their souls can leave their bodies whilst they sleep. The world they enter is full of dead and tormented spirits, some desperately trying to leave by claiming an empty host body, generously provided by our astral projectors.

The end of Insidious saw Josh return from the spirit world after helping bring his son’s soul back to his body, but the events that soon followed left us questioning whether it was Josh  had returned, or someone else. As a child, Josh was tormented by an old woman in black who was trying to claim Josh’s body and return to the real world. This is the plot that is focused upon in this film and I believe they have done a brilliant job in expanding it and cleverly tying in some of the events from the first film.

2I’m sorry; you didn’t actually want to get to sleep tonight, did you?

The events of Josh’s childhood are only hinted at in the first film and turn out to be very important to the plot. The segments from the past shows a young Elise – who is either an outstanding casting choice or has had her voice dubbed over by the original actress, because the similarity is uncanny – attempting to help Josh to forget his ability to astral project. This flashback also brings in a new character not previously mentioned, Carl, who can contact the dead by using a set of lettered dice. The events of this flashback closely tie into the conclusion of the film in a way that I suspect viewers will either consider stupid or an imaginative twist that was a clever way to tie everything up.

In the present day, it becomes apparent very early on to Josh’s family that there is something amiss, and that things haven’t been happily ever after since Josh and Dalton returned from the spirit world. Josh’s health begins to deteriorate and he becomes less and less like himself making it abundantly clear that Josh’s soul wasn’t the soul that returned. Massive hats off to Patrick Wilson in this film as he perfectly portrays the tormented soul that has taken up residence within Josh’s body.

3S7C1406.CR2There are many ways to avoid being seen; this guy knows none of them.

Carl returns to the story in present day when things begin to get out of hand again and Josh’s Mum has nowhere else to turn. They are also joined by the comedic duo Specs and Tucker, my favourite characters from the first film, who brilliantly lighten the mood at appropriate times without detracting from the scary nature of the film. This rag-tag group of misfits embark on a journey to shed some light on the old lady in black and learn how this tormented soul came to be, and just how close it has always been to Josh’s life. This side plot provides the film with most of its genuinely scary and jumpy moments whilst also elaborating on an intriguing and previously unforeseen series of events.

Insidious 2 trailer (Screengrab)“What the hell did you do to my son’s hair?!”

Now, this film was brilliant in that it expanded the story and also provided a few jumpy moments that weren’t just cheap scare tactics to get a reaction from the audience. All the actors were great, particularly Patrick Wilson, and as a whole, I would recommend this film to anyone. That being said, I cannot shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right and I was left questioning whether I enjoyed the film as I left the cinema. This could be because, whilst there were some genuinely jumpy moments, a lot of the time it felt like the build up of suspense was fantastic, but the pay-off was less satisfying. One thing this film, like many before it, has fallen prey to is the inevitable set up for another sequel, one which I’m not fully convinced is necessary. Still, after the fantastic opening weekend this film has had at the box office I will not be surprised to see chapter 3 announced very soon.

This has been Deedsy for The Awesome Update, over and out.

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