Saturday, October 12, 2013

October Scares: The Terror Continues in "Insidious: Chapter 2"

When we last left the Lamberts at the end of Insidious (2011), it appeared the evil spirits that haunted them had been driven away. But as Insidious: Chapter Two begins, the family is still being plagued by mysterious events. Josh (Patrick Wilson) insists that everything’s fine, and the supernatural forces that pursued them are gone. But his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and their children continue to experience strange occurrences. She also suspects something’s wrong with her husband, as his behavior becomes more & more erratic. In order to get some answers, Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) tracks down one of the paranormal investigators who helped Josh as a child. But the forces they're dealing with are much darker than they realize, and it will take all their love & strength to defeat them.

The story builds on the events of the first film, with some nice twists along the way. There are a couple of eerie scare sequences, including a visit to a run down, deserted hospital. The ultimate reveal regarding the identity of the demonic villain is appropriately horrific. Unlike many sequels, the movie doesn’t alter or rewrite what happened in the previous story. The main characters are interesting & well developed. A couple of younger ghost hunters featured in the film are played for comic relief, they're sometimes a bit over the top, but they don’t completely wear out their welcome. By the way, one of those ghost trackers is played by the movie's co-story writer & screenplay author, Leigh Whannell. The performances are uniformly strong, with Wilson, Byrne & Hershey particular standouts.

Despite the fact that Director James Wan kicked off the Saw franchise in 2004, his style here is refreshingly restrained. He accomplishes a lot with creepy atmosphere & suggestion; he doesn’t rely on blood & gore. Though there are some very good special effects, they aren't overdone or over-used either. There are a few “jump scare” moments that just might catch you off guard. In fact, Wan has helped power a resurgence of old school terror films with the first Insidious, and this past summer’s fact-based ghost story The Conjuring. The film’s strength is in the characters; we really care about this family and what happens to them. At the end of the movie, the door is left open for a third chapter, which could take the series in a new direction. If it’s anywhere near as good as the first two films, it would be a welcome addition to the terrifying saga.

James Wan is proving himself to be on of our best genre filmmakers, and his love for classic horror shows in his well-crafted movies. The first film, Insidious, is currently available on Blu-ray & DVD, and The Conjuring will be released on video on October 22. Insidious: Chapter 2 is currently in theaters. If you’re a fan of terror tales like Poltergeist, The Legend of Hell House & The Haunting, this movie should be on your must see list. Here’s a link to the trailer for Insidious: Chapter 2:

Next: Do you dare enter the Carnival of Souls or swim in the Night Tide?

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