Insidious Chapter 2 (2013)

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I was perfectly happy to have “Insidious” end on the dark note that it did. I didn’t need any further emphases on what had occurred because it was very self explanatory. However, I’m glad that “Insidious Chapter 2” explains what occurred while also expanding on it, and building on that dark note to create an even darker note. “Chapter 2” doesn’t top the original, but in a Hollywood currently obsessed with trilogies, I’m thankful that “Chapter 2” feels more like an extension of the mythos rather than a cheap cash grab. Everything is essentially the same as we saw it from the first film with harsh tones of red and blue filling every crevice of the nightmarish world James Wan creates. We’re also able to dig deeper in to the Further to explore what lies within the darkness and how it can rot souls.

There are a lot of neat twists to “Insidious Chapter 2” that I really enjoyed, and while it does remove some of the mysticism of the first film, it thankfully never loses its step and builds upon the ghoulish beings we saw wreaking havoc on the Lambert family in the first movie. Taking place immediately after the first film, Josh emerges from consciousness after strangling Elise, and is stunned to discover that his wife has pretty much pointed the finger at him. After an admittedly far fetched police investigation that leaves Josh innocent, Renai and the Lambert family is prepared to move on. But not everything is as resolved as they’d like as new specters begin rearing their ugly faces, and terrorizing the youngest child of the family. Meanwhile, Elise’s old ghost hunting pals Specs and Tucker are convinced Elise is trying to reach them from beyond the grave.

Both supernatural anomalies begin to connect more than either group realize, and soon Renai begins to realize that perhaps Josh just isn’t Josh. Now Josh’s mom Loraine (the beautiful Barbara Hershey) and fellow investigator Carl race against time with Specs and Tucker to discover the mystery of the new specter, and what Josh’s ulterior motives are. While the film itself is a nice follow up, it’s not without its drawbacks, which include a brutally goofy prologue involving a young Elise with an unnecessary dubbed voice over by Lin Shaye. If that’s not enough, Specs and Tucker have to be the most useless horror heroes I’ve ever seen. Not only do they tend to botch most of their operations in this follow up, but they seem to luck in to most of their explosive findings rather than actually rely on their wit and know how. It’s a wonder these two are alive while Elise is stumbling around in the Further.

In spite of the flaws, though, “Insidious Chapter 2” marches forward with a much more complex and complicated storyline this time around. Everything that seemed straight forward and obvious in the first film is handed a new dimension with a wider scope that adds to this narrative very well. A lot of audiences may not like the way the sequel undermines the original, but I liked how we garnered a glimpse at much more sinister forces beneath the darkness, and how everything is rooted from a larger more relentless evil. While not everyone will like how aspects from the first that were ambiguous are given more exposition, I appreciated how the film kept up its tension and harrowing pace, while removing some of the cloaks from the monsters we saw in the original 2011 offering. If we had to have a sequel, “Chapter 2” is a really good one.