Insidious: Chapter 2 (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner14/09/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Despite solid performances, Insidious: Chapter 2 is a disappointing sequel that never quite sparks to life, thanks to a derivative script that fails to deliver any actual scares.

What's it all about?
Directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell (co-creators of the Saw franchise), Insidious: Chapter 2 begins almost exactly where the 2011 film left off, with Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) returning from demonic parallel realm The Further, having rescued his young son Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Josh immediately takes his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and his three children to live with his mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), but when spooky things start happening in Lorraine's house too they once again call on the help of ghost-busters Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Simpson).

Meanwhile, Renai begins to suspect that something is wrong with Josh, while Lorraine suddenly realises that their problems may be connected to an incident in Josh's childhood, so she calls in old family friend Carl (Steve Coulter) to help them get to the bottom of the mystery by attempting to contact the dead, including deceased paranormal investigator Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye).

The Good
The performances are pretty decent this time round, perhaps because Wilson and Byrne are given substantially more interesting things to do, though Barbara Hershey is still bafflingly underused as Lorraine. Once again, Lin Shaye proves that she's capable of much more than just grotesque comic relief in Farrelly Brothers movies and there's strong comic support from Whannell and Simpson.

The Bad
The main problem with Insidious: Chapter 2 is that the script is painfully derivative and fails to properly exploit its main idea; it also curiously drops its most successful element from last time round. On top of that, the scares are limited to a handful of sudden noise moments (even the bits that are scary in the trailer are curiously muted in context) and the action feels increasingly repetitive, particularly in the middle section, to the point where you're practically willing the various ghosts and demons to get on with it.

In addition, though there are a handful of deliberate laughs involving Whannell and Simpson, the tone elsewhere in Insidious: Chapter 2 is less certain and there are several moments that are unintentionally laughable enough to distance you from the film. There are also a number of occasions where you find yourself thinking of ways that what's happening on screen could have been a lot scarier, such as with Coulter's character's propensity for dice-throwing in order to contact the dead, or Dalton using a pair of tin can walkie-talkies to talk to his brother.

Worth seeing?
Insidious: Chapter 2 is something of a disappointment thanks to a lazy, derivative script and sluggish direction that fails to properly exploit its premise. See The Conjuring (same director, same male lead) instead.

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Content updated: 12/11/2019 11:22

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