Monday, September 16, 2013

INSIDIOUS: Chapter 2- The Further Strikes Back

 Watching Insidious in a very sparse theater alone was one of the scariest theater experiences I’ve ever had. It’s right up there with watching The Exorcist in the theater nearly alone on a belly full of Percocet when it was released re-mastered and complete some years back. When Regan spider-walked down the stairs backward, I actually yelled out in the theater. When I saw Insidious, a water-logged ceiling tile fell a few rows next to me and I jumped out of my seat and almost lost control of my bowels. It was timed perfectly, and I actually thought someone was fucking with me until I realized that there was a giant ceiling tile next to me. More recently, watching James Wan’s newest effort, The Conjuring spooked me. Amazing use of sound and lighting with characters that I became emotionally entwined with and some very creepy ghosty/demony/possession shit going on. Sure Insidious, the original, had some of that as well, but The Conjuring settled under my skin, not as fantastical or as at least abstract as Insidious. That brings us to Insidious: Chapter 2. A movie not as scary as The Conjuring. A movie not as innovative as the original Insidious. A movie that I enjoyed and will own and watch again, but if the game of the sequel is a battle of one-ups-manship than I’m afraid Insidious: Chapter 2 didn’t go far enough.


The Lambert family learn their struggle with the supernatural is far from over when a long-buried secret plunges them back into a terrifying world of darkness.


The look and feel of Insidious 2 is identical to the first installment. It is a near seamless transition between the two pictures, and for that I give it credit. This truly is a Chapter 2; a continuation of a great idea. I’m not sure I needed a second part or needed to understand more about The Further. While there were moments that filled me with modest dread, I kept thinking to myself that I had seen this all before. Maybe the intent of Wan and co was not to wow me with something absolutely new and terrifying, but to give me more of the thing I love in the original movie. If that is the case, than Insidious 2 is a success and the box office numbers will attest to that.

I felt a disconnect from characters that I was particular sympathetic to in the original picture. Rose Byrne, who grabbed the heart right off my sleeve in the original picture, only tried to take it with a tug and then let go. Due to some plot direction, Patrick Wilson didn’t fill me up, butter cup like he did in the original movie either. This left me to find my protagonist of identity, the character with which I could find a bond and love and root for. Lo and behold, Steve Coulter as Carl filled the shoes nicely and at least provided me a guide into the Further. All in all you’re looking at very similar performances from all involved in the original picture, but plot points destroyed a certain family dynamic that truly endeared me to the original picture. When that was gone, a few other pieces fell apart.

Many criticized the original picture of a sort of comedic direction at the hands of Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell in the role of paranormal bumbling researchers. Well they return in Insidious 2, show up rather early and, while I may have enjoyed their hi-jinx in the original picture, they come in too soon into the second Chapter and ruin carefully set moods. I was a great supporter of theirs in the original picture, but they feel overused in the second; too central to the plot of the movie. I became distracted from the mise en terror and found it difficult to allow myself to be taken as I was in the original movie. I remember when the original came out folks drew parallels between Insidious and Poltergeist, and I think you can say the same for its sequel though I would use that as praise. Poltergeist and its sequel were effective supernatural pictures. So are both Insidous films though like the sequel to Poltergeist, the family seems to lose cohesion and so I always find myself drawn to the family story in the original Poltergeist.

Now I sound like I’m against this movie which is not the case. I thoroughly enjoyed many of the same attributes as I did in the original picture. This is still a visually stunning movie that uses reds and blues to create surreal, haunts much in the same way that Argento’s Suspiria did in the late 70’s. The make-up and costume design is impeccable. The Further is still eerie, and though I won’t give away too much, there’s one room in the movie during a turning point in the evolution of the plot twist that had me on seat’s edge and ready to jump, run and hold my nose. The opening sequence is good, ghost fun.

I’m saying see this movie. Enjoy it. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the original. You’ll be getting the third installment soon enough and then we can talk about whether or not the sequel works because, more than likely, Mr. Wan won’t be behind the lens.

It’s in the theaters now and doing well. Watch the original movie then go watch the sequel and complete a cinematic idea while preparing for a new one. Also, don’t see The Conjuring in the same night or same weekend as Insidious 2. The Conjuring will kicks its ass and you’ll feel like Chapter 2 cheated you.


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