Insidious Chapter 2 picks up where the first film left off with the Lambert family under attack by paranormal forces. Instead of the child Dalton, the spirit is focused this time on using Josh, the father, as a vessel to murder his family. With this being the second James Wan film to come out this year, and the fact that both films deal with the otherworldly, a family’s struggle against these spirits, and ghost hunters, comparisons are inevitable. As a reviewer, it’s difficult not to see these films as fundamentally connected, perhaps part of the same universe (Waniverse?), or be tempted to assert that Wan may have written both films simultaneously.
There are many similarities. Both films favor an old school, atmospheric approach to the horror, as opposed to the blood, guts and gore. Both films focus on a family under the oppression of malevolent spirits. In both outings, the family is assisted by experts in the paranormal. However, where The Conjuring relied on religious horror tropes and suggested that the spirits oppressing the family were demonic, Insidious 2 (and its predecessor) is more at home with paranormal thrillers and leaves religion out of it.
Where Insidious 2 succeeds most is that while it contains the carnivalistic cheap (but fun!) scares we’ve come to associate with Wan’s work, there is a strong Evil Dead-esque slapstick element that makes the ghostly attacks just as likely to induce laughs as much as screams. The final confrontation, in particular, brought laughs from the audience as cookware, tools, and insults fly across the house.
Wan also spends much time developing the origins of the spirits introduced in the original. We learn about the creepy lady from Josh’s childhood and where she fits into everything. While it isn’t really clear why she took a liking to Josh in the first place, learning about her provides interesting fodder for the story.
All in all, a fun entry for the Halloween season. Fans of the original will find a lot to love.
Insidious Chapter 2 opens today in Philly area theaters.