Insidious: Chapter 2
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Insidious: Chapter 2

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Sequels are a natural part of the movie industry to extend the cash flow generated a successful movie. The rarely disproven fact is it almost never lives up to the expectations of the fans or accolades of the critics. The defining criteria are the income generated by the box office receipts. An example that can be used to examine the veracity of this statement is a recent release under review here, ‘Insidious: Chapter 2. In 2010 the original was released with an opening weekend gross of $13 million eventually growing to over $54 million in less than five months. Considering the budget for the movie was an estimated $1.5 million the executives at the studio saw this as an incredible source of profit. All of us would love to have a 401k with that level of return on the investment. Even though the reaction to the overall quality of the story or its production the sequel rolled out, it took about three years to come up with the sequel examined here. ‘Insidious 2’ garnered significantly less in the way of response but once again the all-important revenue, the bottom line. With an increased budget of $5 million, the opening weekend raked in $40 million more than double that amount in just four months. Despite being panned people were eager to spend their hard earned money to see. With profits of this magnitude; modest expenditures yielding respectable returns points to another outing no matter what Rotten Tomatoes might list as its ranking.

The fundamental premise established in the original movie is that every horror buff has seen countless times. A perfectly normal American family; a husband Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson), his pretty young wife, Renal (Rose Byrne) and their children, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor). There is a third but the story never really got around to the extraneous child. The events of that film brought the innocent family in to contact with a group of demonic entities collectively known as ‘The Insidious.’ It is a typical parent desperate to rescue their children from evil supernatural forces out to destroy them. The reason why this theme is so familiar and utilized so frequently is the bottom line; it is highly effective. Most people have experienced a creepy, unnerving sounds or feelings and the protection of your family is ingrained in our genetic composition. The Lambert family managed to survive their initial encounters but just barely.

Cutting back into the past, 1986, when a medium and his friend investigate what entity is responsible for the supernatural problems young Josh (Garrett Ryan). His mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) engaged the services of Carl (Steve Coulter) and Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), under hypnosis they discover the identity of the mysterious woman, a ‘friend ‘of Josh that was caught in some old photographs. It is revealed that Jos has the supernatural ability of astral projection, mentally transporting his essence to a remote location. The three decide it is in the boy’s best interest to purge the knowledge and memories from his consciousness. Years later Renai is being questioned by the police concerning the events of the first film, specifically the tragic death of Elise. The official suspicion is falling on Josh enhanced by the unusual events surrounding his childhood. Once again the family faces relocation, this time to Lorraine’s house. Immediately the disturbing event's startup following the proscribe pattern set by decades of ghost stories used in the film. Music is heard, a piano playing without the benefit of a player followed by sighting a woman in a white dress sitting in the living room. Perhaps the most unsettling for Renai is hearing the cries of her baby throughout the house. When she finally comes directly in front of the spectral woman in white Renai is knocked unconscious. When Carl attempts to contact the woman on the other side by using dice capable spelling out words, they are lead to Lorraine’s former place of employment, the Our Lady of Angels hospital. There they come across the name of a former patient, Parker Crane, who killed himself by jumping off the hospital’s roof.

These circumstances culminate, as they always do, in an escalating series of supernatural occurrence albeit in a predictable fashion. One of the reasons why this movie lagged considerably behind the first is a lack of balance. The original possessed some intriguing cinematography with set design and lightened that properly enhanced the eerily mood. When combined with performances by professionals able to pull novel nuances out of the often used character archetypes that film managed to provide a nugget of something interesting to hold the attention of the audience. The first movie had a sense of closure that while it held out the potential for extending the story but no overwhelming need to proceed. In ‘Insidious 2’ the extension of the characters and deepening of their plights did little to meet that promise. The sum of the parts became less than its whole. The actors still are counted among the most capable around, but even though they have considerable experience particularly in this type of role, there was not enough for them to get traction and dig into their characters. Despite an honest effort in weaving a new twist and to some extent that goal nearly achieved. Unfortunately, the demands of the genre, horror, are to instill fright into the audience. Ultimately this film falls short of being scary.

The director, James Wan, has already accumulated considerable experience and name recognition among horror fans. As the creator of the ‘Saw’ franchise and the filmmaker behind the much better-crafted film, ‘The Conjuring,’ also starring Patrick Wilson, Wan has been working towards becoming s true Master of Horror. One reassuring aspect of the new tact his career is on is he appears to move away from the torture porn exemplified by flicks like any of the ‘Saw ‘installments or their imitators. The use of torture by the protagonist is an awful reflection on our culture and has denigrated a great film genre. Wan is altering the course of his directorial styling focusing more on visually interesting photography and affecting the use of camera angles and lighting. While this is fantastic, he still is a learning curve presenting the overall story to the audience. Although this film exceeds the previous one visually, it was at the expense of telling the story. Mr. Wan has moved past the mindless infliction of pain but still has to work on using that to create interest in the characters and their circumstances. He has moved into contention to be heralded as one of horror’s most promising directors.

Peripheral Vision: Behind The Scenes
Ghostly Transformation
Haunted Hospital: On Location
Work In Progress: On Set Q&A
Leigh Whannell's Insidious Journal
Insidious: Spectral Sightings - 3 Part Webisode

Posted 12/228/2013                01/11/2018

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