Insidious: Chapter 2 – Wan delivers again for horror fans

Insidious 2 trailer  (Screengrab)IT COULD be said James Wan is somewhat a master of contemporary horror. Setting off a major franchise in Saw (before it became hopelessly drear), while directing such acclaimed horrors as Insidious and The Conjuring. Insidious made it somewhat obvious that a sequel was coming, regardless of James Wan insisting that he wants to branch out from horror, and that he never plans for sequels. That brings us to Insidious: Chapter 2. James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell both returned for the film, as well as most of the original cast. One has to be a little sceptical of what a second instalment has to offer, given the first film.

We start with a flashback to 1986, as we see Josh, a little boy haunted by the phantasmal figure of an old woman. A younger version of Elise comes to help the boy, soon settling that the best solution is to make the boy forget about his astral connection to the other realm. We cut to present day, a full twenty five years later as we see Renai (Rose Byrne), Josh (Patrick Wilson) and family from the first film. Renai is questioned about the mysterious death of the ghost hunter Elise, to no avail. Regardless of the relocation to her mother’s house, Renai begins to see the haunting figure of a woman in white. A possession from a supernatural source happens, as Carl (Steve Coulter), Specs and Tucker are tasked with finding the source of this occult happening.

So Insidious: Chapter 2 is actually quite busy for a horror film in terms of narrative. With heavy use of flashbacks, spirit realms, and very subtle touches, it demands a lot of attention. That comes with pros and cons though, it has a tangible and engaging story, but its horribly messy and at times quite hard to follow.. At least Leigh Whannell has tried to make an absorbing and complex story though, considering what a generic and over-milked genre horror can be.  There’s also a rather shameful plug for a sequel, although I certainly don’t think there’s anything more to offer from Insidious.

In terms of scares, I think it delivers. There are a few that are horribly cheesy, and slightly laughable, but the majority of the jumps in Insidious: Chapter 2 are fairly scary, or at points quite bone-chilling. If the mostly 15-year-old audience in the theatre is anything to judge by, it’s at least as scary as The Omen. It all depends on the person I think. There’s a mixture of fast jumps, ominous and eerie things, as well as disgusting gross-outs.

If you’re a horror fan, I think I’d suggest Insidious: Chapter 2. It’s not breaking the mould in any way, but it’s vaguely scary, with some solid spooks. The story is ‘interesting’ but certainly not the most polished thing I’d ever seen. If you’re looking for a great ghost flick, you’re probably better off with James Wans’ The Conjuring instead. If you’re looking for a cheap scare, by all means give Insidious: Chapter 2 a chance.

Insidious: Chapter 2 is out now at the Commodore, check out the listings here.