One thing I like about James Wan, as a filmmaker, is the amount of films he’s able to helm each year and the seemingly large amount of passion that goes into each individual project and his love for directing horror films. After this past summer’s surprise hit and surprisingly scary The Conjuring, Wan would have to kick it up a notch, especially for the fan base he’s built since. Unfortunately, Insidious: Chapter 2 seems devoid of scares and leaves very little impression.
Leigh Whannell was assiduous in writing the script. The story cohesively intertwines with the one from its predecessor, but still not giving us a very vivid introduction to the characters from before. The film stars Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert, husband and father. His wife, Renai (Rose Byrne) and his son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) decide to move in with his mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey). They do so after the events of the first film in an attempt to move away from the evil that had overcome their family, except this time there’s something seriously wrong with Josh and they must go back into the further to find out what’s really going on.
It seems James Wan likes to work with people of his ilk, like cinematographer John R. Leonetti, who worked on The Conjuring with him. The one thing that didn’t help Insidious: Chapter 2 was the cinematography, which was off-putting and offered nothing but an inconsistent visual language. Like The Conjuring, some shots are placed diagonally, possibly to provoke thought, but are laughable at best and tend to ruin the atmosphere and cancels out the suspense. James Wan seems to show pedantic knowledge of the genre he’s supposed to show mastery at, yet fails to deliver when it comes to real scares and succeeds when he’s not making an attempt at jump-cut horror.
Leigh Whannell gave the family enough hurdles to jump through, but for some reason didn’t give the audience enough reason to actually feel bad for the family. Most of the characters felt like cardboard cut-outs. None were lively and none gave me a real reason to continue watching (although I did finish the film). Spec and Tucker, two characters who are purely there for comedic relief, didn’t really provide much of anything as they stumbled and mumbled throughout the entire film. Was it me or did they just not do much of anything except get beat up?
Renai and her mother-in-law, Lorraine, look so much alike that not only was I wondering who was who in a few scenes, people around me were asking which one was in which scene. Not only that, but Barbara Hershey’s performance was stale and while it wasn’t Ty Simpkin’s fault, it seemed like his character was only there because he was integral to the original Insidious.
So is this latest installment of the Insidious series (a third is in development for 2015) worth a watch? Maybe if you’re bored, but I’ll admit you could probably be watching much better films during that time. If you have friends who are easily scared and get a thrill out of scaring them, this movie will do just fine for a jump or two. Otherwise jump off of this barely sinking ship.