Monday, 21 October 2013

Insidious Chapter 2 Review (2013)

As a serious extension, Insidious Chapter 2 was unsuccessful. But, viewed light-heartedly, this film is a hilariously entertaining watch.
In light of Insidious, any sinister atmosphere that could have been retained was undermined, despite the larger budget. Insidious: Chapter 2 felt as if it had been shot far less refined than its predecessor. Most notably, it seemed to have been shot at a higher frame rate, reminiscent of The Hobbit and its criticised hyperrealism. The experimental camerawork was extremely evident; every other shot was either zooming, or shaky hand held camera. Which proved to be very distracting.

The exaggerated surreal visuals in Insidious worked successfully in making the ominous inhabitants of the Further unnerving. But, in Chapter 2, these elements were overdone to such a degree, there was no sense of them being ethereal or supernatural. Particularly how the ghosts remained static in Insidious reflected, far better, realistic examples of 'ghost sightings' than the pantomime-esque interactions of Parker's mother. The monsters became garishly humorous, and unintentionally so. Which seemed especially apparent, from the contrasting serious performances of Barbara Hershey, Rose Byrne and Lin Shaye.  Personally, I didn't feel the Parker backstory worked too well for the old woman. It seemed disjointed and unnecessary for the sake of an otherwise mysterious monster, frightening without any expansion.

The continuity between Insidious and Chapter 2 didn't adhere well, through the tenuous connections made. For example, the flashback to Insidious to explain the break ins during the night. The mysteriousness of the scene was sufficient to create tense atmosphere. To suggest that astral forms of Josh and Elise (who was dead at this stage?) were the culprits, was completely unnecessary. Given that, the same demon in Insidious in that scene returned to harass Renai later in Insidious. Therefore, this demon wasn't driven out by Elise, or Josh, rendering these later interventions purposeless.

This also brings into question how, given that our astral selves leave at the present and must return, in order for a traveller to become conscious again, feasibly... wouldn't it be impossible to time travel to see past versions of yourself? As for Josh's younger self to be paralysed in that state, wouldn't that have made young Josh possessed from the beginning? If he was still permanently suspended in the Further at the time of Elise's video interview?

Renai also knew at the ending of Insidious (or at least, we as an audience are lead to believe this from her reaction), that Josh had killed Elise from the photograph revealing him to be possessed. So, it seemed illogical she became blatantly ignorant of this knowledge, in the face of Josh acting obviously out of character.

Chapter 2 niggled me with it's sense of recyclability from Insidious. Significant segments of footage were taken directly from Insidious. We didn't see any new pictures from Josh's youth as he was being harrowed by the ghost of the old woman. The credits seemed very similar. Even Renai hadn't managed to write a new song by the time they had moved house, or even perform the full song sampled in Insidious. It would have been nice to hear some expansion on Joseph Bishara's soundtrack?

The jump scares were less ingeniously thought out. One couldn't have gotten more brash than the demon behind the chair, as far as subtleness goes. But it still worked better than Renai finding her baby on the floor. The horrific musical baby walker was obvious in intending to be a jump scare source, right from the beginning of the film. Like the Conjuring, another recently released creation from James Wan, segments of Chapter 2 were heavily reminiscent of classic horrors such as the Sixth Sense ("look at what you made me do") and The Shining/Amityville Horror (archetypal psychotic father). This I feel was disappointing in regards to both films respectively, as James Wan's previous efforts have been able to stand on their own creatively (Dead Silence, Insidious, Saw), rather than becoming watered down sequel material.

Chapter 2 was concluded with another queasy cliff hanger, therefore no doubt Chapter 3 shall emerge, and further devolve the series. And so begins the slow, untimely death of Insidious by sequel. Fortunately, in this instance, the follow up worked miraculously in it's favour as something of a spoof. 

Comedy value: 8/10
Continuity value: 3/10

Reviewed by Abigail Lewis