This Friday the 13th, “Insidious: Chapter 2” opened in theaters.
The film picks up where the preceding “Insidious” left off: family-man Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) has battled and won against haunting spirits in order to save his son, who was possessed by a malicious entity.
However, in “Insidious: Chapter 2,” Josh’s wife Renai (Rose Byrne) worries that the man who came back from the spirit world is not wholly her husband.
The Lamberts begin to once again experience supernatural occurrences, like the piano playing on its own accord, but Josh insists to Renai that everything is fine.
To determine the cause of these strange events, Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) enlists the help of Specs and Tucker (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson), the two paranormal investigators from the previous film, to see if they can find the cause.
This results in another trip into “The Further,” the mysterious spirit world, and a hellish fight for Josh’s soul.
With malevolent ghosts and demons, “Insidious: Chapter 2” is firmly in the camp of supernatural-themed horror films.
For those who particularly enjoy that genre of film, this movie will be a success.
But for the average moviegoer who sees a horror film for simple scares, “Insidious 2” is far less successful than its predecessor.
A horror film can have complex character development and elaborate world building, but the problem is that “Insidious 2” tries, and fails, to pull this off, at the expense of the expected horror movie frights.
To its credit, the film delivers several strong performances as roles are well casted as well as acted.
Unfortunately, the stars simply don’t have much to work with in terms of a script.
In addition to his acting role, Whannell also serves as screenwriter for the film. He’s best known for his work on the “Saw” franchise, which sounds a bit suspect now given the quality of the recent movies, but he actually wrote the first “Saw,” which was very well received.
None of the originality and spine-chilling scares that made the first “Saw” a hit are evident in “Insidious 2,” however.
Director James Wan also returns, but his directing is, in a word, dull. There’s nothing particularly good or bad to be said, other than noting several missed opportunities.
The first “Insidious” was a surprise hit — on a $1.5 million budget, it grossed over $97 million worldwide, making it the most profitable film of 2011.
But don’t expect lightning to hit the same place twice.
The genuine scares that made “Insidious” great simply aren’t present in its sequel.
There’s enough in the film that those who like supernatural horror films will be satisfied, if not particularly impressed. The average audience member, however, isn’t going to find much worthwhile here.