Insidious Chapter 2 starts off where the first film left us sighing exasperatedly at a lame attempt at building a franchise masquerading as cliff-hanger. Anyway, in the first film Dalton (Ty Simpkins) fell into a coma thus allowing an evil spirit into our world (thus replacing Dalton). His Dad, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson), rescues him from The Further, bringing him back to the world of the living. However, it becomes clear that Josh has brought something back with him as his behaviour is strange to say the least. Furthermore, the hauntings and bad dreams have once again started troubling the Lambert family.
Insidious means that someone or something proceeds to do something harmful in a gradual, subtle way, it becomes apparent that Insidious Chapter 2 is insidious in name only as James Wan’s latest film is about as subtle as an elephant wearing a gazelle disguise in a herd of gazelles. The film’s unsubtle scares stem from the fact that the majority of the film is essentially periods of silence followed by a very loud bang. Insidious Chapter 2 becomes a tiresome exercise of trying to avoid being startled by a sudden loud bang reverberating from your headphones/speakers. What the sudden loud bangs do is cover up the fact that film is devoid of scares and originality thus making Insidious Chapter 2 a horror film, as Mark Kermode said, for those who do not like and don’t regularly watch horror films.
Like the inexplicably overrated The Conjuring (also directed by James Wan), the Insidious films leave no cliché unused. Slamming doors, rocking rocking horses and creepy hospitals make yet another appearance in a James Wan film. Wan clearly loves the genre (hence the number of references to superior horror films), but Wan can’t transcend and rise above the clichés as he attempts to frighten us with something that has been seen a million times before. Any seasoned horror fanatic will roll their eyes in annoyance at every lazy use of a cliché as though they were haunted by a ghost whose only actions were to move stuff around.
It is when Insidious: Chapter 2 gets to its final act things begin to get laugh out loud funny as the film becomes ludicrous in the extreme, however, Insidious: Chapter 2, and myself incidentally, really lost the plot when the film turns into The Shining with a fire extinguisher (rather than an axe). The viewer half expects Josh Lambert to poke his head through the battered door and shout “hearssssssssssss Johnny”. The Shining is not the only horror film that Wan blatantly makes reference too as there are nods to Psycho and The Poltergeist, but it is the nod to The Shining that tips this bland and boring horror film into something so hysterical that it rivals the remake of The Wicker Man in terms of unintentional laughter.
James Wan isn’t an idiot because he can make a decent horror film as he has something within him to do just that. The surreal elements of the first Insidious is clear evidence of that, but as Wan continues to exploit every cliché in the book to an extent that, if they were human, he’s be arrested for exploiting his workforce, his films are always going to be successful but unremarkable. Insidious Chapter 2 is handsomely designed film, but narratively (the film is co-written by Wan and Leigh Whannell) the film is all over the place, weak and lazy as it ends in almost the exact same way as the first film did by promising a not so insidious sequel.