Title: Insidious: Chapter 2
HTS Overall Score:88.5
At this point it’s safe to say the Lambert family is going to be in therapy for years to come. In the first installment of the Insidious series, the family’s son, Daulton (Ty Simpkins), plummeted down an attic ladder and fell into a coma. Then their home became a haunted house complete with a ghost and thumps and bumps in the night. Desperate for answers, they sought the help of a ghost-whisperer, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), who discovered their son was trapped in a middle ground between life and death called “The Further.” The father, Josh (Patrick Wilson), was sent to the The Further to find his son and bring him back. The family was eventually reunited, but Josh became possessed by a demonic entity and killed Elise. End of chapter one.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is director James Wan’s second installment in the Insidious terror series. If there’s one thing Wan has proven, it’s his ability to terrify audiences with disturbing visuals. He pulled it off with Insidious (2010) and, again, with another spooky horror fest called The Conjuring (2013), both of which are laced with jump-out-of-your-skin moments. Let’s not forget his 2004 film, Saw, which was so terrifyingly popular that it spawned a series of six more Saw films with an eighth installment just recently announced.
With Insidious: Chapter 2, Wan manages to return the series’ original cast for another jaunt of spine tingling fun. The story picks-up where Insidious left off; the Lambert’s are setting-up camp at Loraine Lambert’s (Josh’s mother) house, hoping to escape the specter that tortured them at their home. Josh’s wife, Renai (Rose Byrne) is shaken and vulnerable. She’s extremely suspicious of her husband’s motivations, compounded by the fact that the police have tagged Josh as the primary suspect in Elise’s murder investigation. Renai tries to tell the police about their home’s haunting, but they aren't buying it.
It turns out that Loraine’s home is no safer than the Lambert’s abandoned house of horrors, and the haunting demon is willing to follow them just about anywhere. It doesn’t take long for Renai and her baby to get physical with a nasty white ghost, while Daulton and Loraine have ghostly encounters of their own. Meanwhile something bizarre is happening with Josh. His behavior doesn’t fit the situation and he’s constantly downplaying the danger his family faces. This forces Loraine to secretly reach-out to Elise’s former coworkers, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Carl (Steve Coulter), for answers. The klutzy duo drag one of Elise’s former colleagues into the mix and he uses paranormal communication dice to communicate with her spirit to see if she can help them save the Lambert’s once again. All of this leads to an epic Shining-esque showdown of terror.
Some horror films require more of an audience commitment than others, as is the case with Insidious: Chapter 2. Those viewers that enjoy letting go of reality and forgiving some silliness will be pleasantly surprised as the film wraps them with tension and nerve-wracking scenes. Others? They’ll probably roll their eyes and grow impatient while finding the film’s scare tactics to be tacky and redundant. The film is crammed with creepy visuals (many of which flash on the screen accompanied by shrieking sounds) and builds anticipation by concealing rooms, hallways, and openings with a veil of darkness and shadows. These techniques work fairly well (despite being excessively used), preying on basic fears of evil lurking in the unknown. Director James Wan also effectively injects unease with the use of spooky sounds like creaking floors, ticking clocks, a creepy piano, crackling static on a baby monitor...all contributing to an atmosphere of evil.
The plot weaves itself into the storyline of the series’ original installment with flashbacks that explain some of the action in Insidious, and reaches even further back and visits Josh as a young boy. These techniques give the two films continuity and leads to a few fun a-ha moments. Unfortunately the storyline becomes slightly too complicated (narrowly becoming its ultimate failure), tiptoeing a fine line of fear-inducing and completely absurd. Viewers able to ignore that noise will find a fairly decent horror flick that provides thrills and scares on its way to a cliffhanger ending.
PG-13 for intense sequences of terror and violence, and thematic elements.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news/ic24.jpg[/img]Sony Pictures delivers yet another fantastic encode with it's MPEG-4 AVC hi-def transfer of Insidious: Chapter 2. The image features beautifully subdued colors that result in an extremely even image. The film’s brightness is also subdued, but not to a detriment. It’s lack of brightness helps to bolster the film’s sinister feel and hides the evil that lurks throughout the story. Black levels and contrast are nearly perfect, while shadow detail is excellent. The image remains razor sharp for the duration of the film and fine details are readily visible. The only noticeable flaw is banding seen around a lantern bulb surrounded by blackness (visible during the opening credits and again near the end of the film as Josh makes his way through the The Further). This flaw, however, is minor and almost silly to highlight.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news//ic25.jpg[/img]Violent...explosive...dynamic...goose-bump inducing...and creepy as all get-out. That pretty much describes Insidious: Chapter 2’s hair raising HD-DTS 5.1 MA audio assault. It’s one of the top audio presentations of the year, nearly worthy of six stars, knocking it clear off the rating scale! I can almost guarantee, without a doubt, it will send chills up your spine. Directionality is simply fabulous with multitudes of evil sounds like creaking doors, ticking clocks, thumps and bangs, cries, moans, breathing, and whispers pouring through all five channels creating a terrifying swirl of sound that appropriately shift as characters move about rooms and camera angles change. Some sounds seem to come from within the ceiling, creating an eerie claustrophobic effect. Fear is consistently heightened by clashing violins, piano discord, and other dark and distressed noises; these sounds occasionally explode with a crack. Joseph Bishara’s (Insidious, The Conjuring) dark original score is excellent and finds prominent time in the rear channels, helping to heighten the scare. Fear is further perpetuated by devastatingly low bass pulses – the sub line is fed plenty of LFE and it digs deep! Dialog, for the duration of the movie, is well balanced and pleasantly throaty.
While not as thunderous as some of 2013's blockbuster action movies, Insidious: Chapter 2 provides a marvelous audio experience.
• Peripheral Vision: Behind the Scenes
• Ghostly Transformation
• Haunted Hospital: On Location
• Leigh Whannell's Insidious Journal
• Work in Progress: On Set Q&A
• Insidious: Spectral Sightings (3-Part Webisode)
Most horror films reach a critical juncture at which the scares stop inducing fear and become plain absurdity. The best ones (think Silence of the Lambs) clear this hurdle and are gripping until the bitter end, while the worst unravel into a pile of senseless action and nonsensical explanations that are entirely disappointing. Insidious: Chapter 2 comes close to making it the distance – so very close – and it might just work for those that are able to completely ignore some obvious flaws. Its exceptional audio presentation helps to pull it along to a fairly decent place, if only the story had been slightly stronger. It’s safe to say that this second installment isn’t as good as the original Insidious, however fans of the original should definitely give this one a viewing (as should enthusiasts that simply enjoy being bathed in fantastic audio).
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Leigh Whannell (screenplay, story, characters) and James Wan (story)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 106 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 17, 2013
Buy Insidious: Chapter 2 on Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It!