Arriving hot on the tails of the smash hit The Conjuring, James Wan’s second Patrick Wilson-starring haunted house horror is here with Insidious Chapter 2, a follow up to his own 2011 original. The brisk production schedule for this sequel betrays the apparent lack of effort that’s gone in to crafting it, as it’s undoubtedly the inferior of Wan’s 2013 efforts, and with none of the inventive weirdness of the original Insidious.
It picks up almost immediately after that film, bar an opening flashback, as Josh (Wilson), his wife Renai (Rose Byrne), who suspects Josh may be responsible for the death of the medium at the end of Chapter 1, and their kids move into Josh’s mother’s house, only to begin experiencing more spooky goings-on.
One thing Wan’s established by now in his hit-and-miss career, is that he knows how to get a good scare when he wants to. The cinematography creates a serviceable atmosphere of dread, and Insidious Chapter 2 gets a good number of jumps in early on, of the kind that horror fans will see coming a mile off, but will still find themselves inevitably succumbing to. While these are effective at first, they do rely on the intrusive addition of a very loud sound effect to accompany each shocking image, the kind one will instinctively lean away from. It’s not a new trick by any means, and Wan handles it better than many directors, but it still can’t help feeling cheap at times.
This might be excusable if the film was otherwise gripping, but it’s quite the opposite. Between the shocks are longer scenes of domestic drama and confusion within the house that become increasingly tedious. After a while, the film is so un-engaging that even the jump scares can’t bring you back into it. Indeed, the timing of them starts to become irrelevant when you don’t care at all as to what’s going on around them.
Insidious Chapter 2 is apparently Wan’s final horror film for the time being, and it might be good for him to take a break. He’s proven more than capable of making superior horror films in the past, but Insidious Chapter 2 (his first sequel, he avoided directing any of the Saw follow-ups) smacks of an adept filmmaker who’s just going through the motions, quickly producing a product for the studio to put out without much care to its quality, something almost confirmed by its second-sequel baiting ending.