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Insidious: Chapter 2 - Film Review

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by Todd Newton (subscribe)
Published November 5th 2013
See what happens when spirits enter the human realm
Insidious Chapter 2
Sony Pictures Publicity

On forums around, the film Insidious: Chapter 2 has generally mixed reviews. Some people love the film and say it is on as good (or even better) than the first chapter. Others say that the film is not as good as the first.

But for me, what really makes Chapter Two very enjoyable is that the film doesn't just make spines quiver: the plot is also more well-rounded than the first. Insidious 2 ties up most of the loose ends from the first chapter.

Insidious Chapter 2
Sony Pictures Publicity

The first chapter revolved around the young boy Dalton Lambert, who has the ability to travel outside his physical body in his sleep: a gift he inherited from his father Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). As a result, he is haunted by spirits; that of a mysterious old woman and a red-faced demon who both want to possess his body.

[Highlight to view spoiler of Insidious (2010)]
Dalton falls into a coma and becomes trapped in 'The Further'- a spirit realm occupied by spirits who crave to live life again. Josh Lambert volunteers himself to be hypnotised so that he can travel into 'The Further' to find Dalton and bring him back to consciousness.

Both return to the physical world but in the final scene, it is revealed that the spirit of the mysterious old woman had possessed Josh when he returned.

And this is where the second chapter begins.

For those of you who may not have seen the first film, check out the first installment before seeing this film.

Insidious Chapter 2
Sony Pictures Publicity

Now back to business.

The second chapter picks up from where the first chapter left off. Chapter 2 dabbles between the present and the past. It jumps between from the time that Josh is possessed by the ghost as an adult, to 25 years in the past where Josh's astral experiences as a child unleashed the roots of this sinister evil. So 'time travel' is a big element in this sequel.

Without giving too much away, this sequel retells the story of the first film from a different perspective. James Wan, the director says: "We loved the idea of having back-to-back stories. You almost watch them as one movie, or as chapters in the one story."

Each storyline links and loops in with one another. What occurs in Josh's past is heavily influenced by what occurs in the present. For example one event spurs on another event then that second event circles back in to affect what had initially happened in the past. Basically, if I could summarise the plot in one word: it would be the following; 'knot-tie'. But one with a 'pretty' bow.

A new story is also introduced - the story of Parker Crane, and believe me it's a disturbing one. But I'll let you find that out for yourself.

Insidious Chapter 2
Dalton Lambert hiding from his father Josh- Sony Pictures Publicity

The first chapter focused on how the Lambert's faced an external enemy in another realm, but in the second film, the ghost is one of the family members and spirits have been let into the earth realm. Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) must face the terrors alone as she is forced to confront not only spirits, but also her husband.

The acting is more sublime in this sequel. Credit has to be given to Patrick Wilson for playing a character who is evil and malevolent so well. His acting is really believable where upon seeing his facial expressions in some scenes, it definitely brings you a sense of dread.

Wilson really enjoyed the challenge of assuming a completely different role as James Wan says; "Patrick had such a good role and a good time because he's actually not playing Josh Lambert from the first film."

Rose Byrne played a much more emotional Renai in the sequel where she struggles to deal with the fact that not only is her husband more violent, but she must deal with the 'paranormal' events in their new home alone. Byrne says: "It's literally a day later and she's on the verge of a emotional breakdown".

In watching Renai, it's not hard to feel her distress. Byrne's acting helps you to place yourself in the scene and draws you onto the edge of your seat as she battles the spirit who has enveloped her husband, so expect to see much more action in this film than the first.

Insidious Chapter 2
Images provided by Sony Pictures Publicity

Insidious: Chapter 2 is more of a psychological thriller than it is a horror movie. But it isn't just all about scares. You do see splices of humour throughout the film that help to help ease the tension of watching it. For example, Tucker (a paranormal detective) is the butt of so many subtle jokes in the film, many of which resulted in a few laughs from the audience.

Insidious Chapter 2
Renai Lambert- Sony Pictures Publicity

But this review won't all just be a lovefest of the film. I do have a few gripes. Firstly, some of the ends are still left loose in the film. Without giving too much away, I still wonder how the spirit of the old woman (in the first film) possessed Josh's body in 'The Further' before Josh's unconsciousness returned. Not much of an explanation was offered for this.

And personally, I found the character of Police Detective Sendal unnecessary..The second chapter of Insidious would still retain its mark if this character had been omitted.

Now I hope I haven't bored you so I will wrap this up. Many sequels fail to attain the same nature as their predecessors but Insidious: Chapter 2 is an exception.

And let me finish this review with a quote from James Wan on doing this sequel; "Sequels are usually very hard to do right. I hope the people that loved the first one will come back and watch the second one and can see the love that went into making it- that we didn't just haphazardly throw it together- because we put a lot of thought into it. We just hope they really enjoy it."

*Note that the film is released in Australia on September 7. This is the international trailer.
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Why? A spine-tingling experience
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Where: In cinemas
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