Sunday, November 17, 2013

Movie Review: Insidious 2

James Wan has said that he has washed his hands off the horror film genre, and this is exceptionally sad news for those who watch Insidious 2. This is a filmmaker who has not only created some of the most seminal modern horror movies over the past ten years but has also managed to craft a haunted house horror sequel that manages to be a genuinely interesting watch rather than a cliched shameless cash grab.

Picking up immediately after the events of the first movie, Insidious Chapter 2 builds on a nice little mythology that expands into a fun and terrifying story. Those who’ve seen the first movie will be familiar with the horrific photographic image of the old lady in the black wedding dress who crossed over from The Further into the world of the living. The sequel focuses on this interesting character and we get to check out what fresh hell this woman is capable of unleashing upon us.

The Lambert family is once again under stress, as Renai (Rose Byrne) is convinced that her husband (Patrick Wilson) brought back something terrible with him during his astral journey and killed the medium. Despite changing houses the bump-in-the-dark noises at night continue, much to Renai’s chagrin, and no one seems to be willing to listen to her.

Sounds cliched? No fear. Wan compensates the familiarity of the plot with his trademark flair for scaring the liquid potty out of you. This sequel is more intense and frightening than the first movie, that too by a significant margin. To achieve this, Wan pulls a few tricks from The Conjuring into Insidious 2. The atmosphere is constantly, unrelentingly creepy and the lack of blood or gore is even more impressive for a film this unsettling. By now he’s pretty much mastered the art of making you feel uneasy, and not resorting to cheap tricks for the same. It helps that the story was written with some effort and not as an afterthought to the jump scares. Even the title card is frightening, which is hilarious and unbelievable when you think about it. It just suddenly appears in big, red bold font with hair raising music and you're left screaming in your seat.

The problem with the first Insidious was that the Darth Maul antagonist, despite having an awesome appearance was poorly written, didn’t really add to the story and we never got to know what he actually wanted. Wan and his writer Leigh Whannel iron out this kink this time around and give you a villain that is hackneyed, but certainly more well defined in intent. Sure, it gets a little convoluted towards the end but it’s thrilling and fun, and definitely better written and scarier than the first movie to keep you hiding under the popcorn bucket. There’s some hope for more Insidious mayhem because the ending opens a door to a sequel, and hopefully it’s only a matter of time until Wan finishes his Fast and Furious movie and gets back to filming spooky houses.

(First published in MiD Day)

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