‘Insidious: Chapter 2′ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated November 9th, 2014 at 6:47 pm,

Insidious Chapter 2 Reviews starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne Insidious: Chapter 2 Review

Wan’s prowess as a storyteller and director in this more interesting and well-plotted second chapter may ironically end up luring in those who weren’t even onboard with Insidious in the first place.

Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up right where chapter 1 ended, with Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) discovering the corpse of murdered medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), with her husband Josh Lambert seemingly the culprit. After a police investigation fails to connect the fingerprints that strangled Elise to Josh, the Lamberts are set free to return to life as normal – only normality never comes, as more supernatural occurrences begin to plague Renai and her once-comatose son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), with Josh oblivious to it all in his militant insistence that the family get back to normal.

Meanwhile, Elise’s former assistants Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) recruit a veteran medium named Carl (Steve Coulter) to help contact their former mentor and solve the case of who murdered her. However, as the team digs into Elise’s death, they quickly find connections to Josh Lambert and the entities haunting him, getting closer to a dark truth that spans time and space, life and death.

Rose Byrne in Insidious Chapter 2 2013 Insidious: Chapter 2 Review

James Wan is, by now, an established name in the horror genre, and he’s enjoyed recent horror movie success thanks to his summer hit The Conjuring. However, Insidious was a much more divisive movie in terms of fan reception, and that stigma – combined with high expectations based on Wan’s other 2013 horror entry – are likely going to challenge Insidious: Chapter 2 in regards to viewer satisfaction. Harder still will be the adjustment as viewers realize that Wan has less interest and re-heating old Insidious ghost-story leftovers, and instead uses the sequel to truly expanded the mythos of his characters and world, ultimately creating something that is more akin to The Shining.

While Chapter 2 does include a few effectively creepy signature Wan scare sequences, the majority of the film is dedicated to laying out a two-handed narrative (once again co-written by Wan and Whannell). On the one hand we get a Shining-style psychological thriller centered on the Lambert household; on the other hand, a supernatural horror-mystery revolving around Elise’s team and their investigation into the history of the ghostly old woman who killed Elise.

Insidious Entity in Insidious 2 Insidious: Chapter 2 Review

Whether or not those two plot threads appease fan expectations, Wan and Whannell do an effective job of using the first film to create an intriguing and tense (if not scary) second chapter, which does what so many other “Chapter 2″ pieces fail to: expand upon a self-contained story in an intriguing and smart way, making creative and logical use of all the various elements of the first film while tweaking and evolving those ideas in new ways. Taken altogether, Insidious parts 1&2 form a complete unbroken story whose various threads weave together into a logical and cohesive whole – one that even offers a few twists, and juggles powder keg plot devices like time-travel with a clarity and focus that is impressive. Just seeing the whole saga come together is worth a theater ticket price – a rarity in horror movie storytelling.

Wan’s directorial imagination is as keen as ever – even when it’s not being used to terrify at rapid-fire pace. The changed setting (now located in Josh’s childhood home) is more ominous, the visual palette is more dismal and dreary – and as stated, there are still those set pieces and sequences throughout the film that will give you chills. It may be fewer chills than you want or expect from a horror film like this, but they’re memorable enough to make the overall experience worthwhile.

Ty Simpkins in Insidious 2 Insidious: Chapter 2 Review

The cast are given new angles and arcs to play out in this second chapter. Without spoiling anything, Wan’s “muse” Patrick Wilson is given something much more dynamic than his usual straight-man role and does fairly well with it – even if he fails to reach that Nicholson “Jack Torrance” level of slow-burn mania. Byrne, by comparison, does a better Shelly Duvall, blending matriarchal concern with wide-eyed naiveté – though that sort of character feels a bit outdated in modern context.

Supporting characters like young Dalton (Simpkins) Josh’s mom Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), and ghost-hunters Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson) are given expanded roles and all manage to create more interesting and essential characters than we saw in the first film. Coulter quickly and concisely establishes Carl as a solid and likable exposition tool, and Lin Shaye (Something About Mary) is a welcome sight again, even in her small cameo role.

Patrick Wilson and Ty Simpkins in Insidious Chapter 21 Insidious: Chapter 2 Review

As stated, by the time the third act of the film rolls around – and Wan truly goes for broke with his Shining homage -  we’re left with a movie that has plenty of narrative meat and good tension – but not that many scares, per se. Then again, horror movie scares are always a subjective (and very divisive) thing, so maybe it’s for the best that Wan and Co. focus instead on providing us with a fun ride of intrigue and suspense, instead of trying emphasize the horror build-up/pay-off catharsis. Insidious: Chapter 2 has a lot of moving parts, and on the whole they are arranged into a proper and fitting closing arc to one of the more memorable horror movie tales of the last few years.

Is it the next Conjuring? No. But even while working at a slightly lower level, Wan’s prowess as a storyteller and director in this more interesting and well-plotted second chapter may ironically end up luring in those who weren’t even onboard with Insidious in the first place. Proof positive that there is benefit in not making your “Part 2″ a “Part 1 Redux.”

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Insidious: Chapter 2 is now in theaters. It is 105 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror and violence, and thematic elements.

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Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. I watched this last night and I am starting to become a huge fan of James Wan. Chapter 2 is not the scariest of the bunch that he has done but what I do see is the storytelling is amazing. His attention to details is top notch and I love his hidden scenes(Chapter 2 has a couple of them like the first film did). If he places this much attention to details and storytelling to the FF7 movie it could be something to watch for especially with the actors and bigger budget. Is Chapter 2 like The Conjuring? No, but it’s close to being as good.

    • What hidden scenes?

  2. Oh man, I thought the last third of the first Insidious was just about the worst thing I’ve ever seen in a film. Hyperbole, I know, but just terrible. I’m a huge fan of horror films so I’ll probably torture myself and see this.

    I’m still holding out hope we’ll have another classic horror film sometime in the future. Films like the Conjuring come close but don’t quite get there…

  3. I thought the first Insidious was one of the single worst films ever made and it completely baffles me how anyone found it enjoyable.

    Usually, even if I hate something, I can at least see why others liked it…even if the reasons are ridiculous…but how Insidious found an audience still boggles the mind.

    • I agree completely. I really can’t even understand how someone could like it. It was just bad. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for their opinion, I really just don’t get it.

      • I really enjoyed The Conjuring though

        • I’m sorry, But if none of you like Insidious, why are you on here, commenting on this? That’s what doesn’t make sense to me. The first insidious was good because it didn’t hold back. It used monsters and demon like beings in the realist way imaginable. I am willing to bet that if The Conjuring had just been a regular movie, not based on anything true, just a good old fashion horror movie, it would have bombed. There was nothing special about the conjuring, I actually thought it wasn’t scary at all. Wha made it really interesting was the fact that it was actually based on Ed and Lorraine Warren and that instantly had 90% of people sold, because you just can’t hate the truth, especially if it plays into the whole “real ghost story” films that no one questions, at all. If Insidious simply had “Based on a true story” plastered all over it, It would be the best horrid movie ever made. People would be going nuts. So all I’m saying is if you want to stop being all high and mighty and actually enjoy a movie, tell yourself it’s real. I guarantee you’ll start enjoying movies a lot more. Or you can just keep being disappointed by every single movie that comes out, feeling like you wasted $10 yet again, and making yourself feel important by putting down people who were just trying to do their job. The choice is yours.

          • OR…now follow me here…or you simply have terrible taste.

            See, for me personally, I don’t enjoy a “horror”film that looks like a Mormon church’s haunted house, who’s main villain looks like Darth Maul’s “special” brother.

            Also, you described it as “realistic”…I do not think this means what you think it means

            • In defense of the above, I think at some point in time, all of us envisioned going to sleep and having an out of body experience, and just wonder if it was like this, with demons and spirits able to just hop in, and take your vessel for a ride.

              Let me use this analogy. I would call this movie the street fighter alpha iii of scary movies. Some of you are looking for Tekken, and they are both good fighting games.

              • Both the JCVD Street fighter movie & the Tekken movie are more entertaining than Insidious.

          • I have to agree with you. I watched The Conjuring and I think that the movie is kind of boring because I’ve watched many movies with the same story, like The Last Exorcism. I could perfectly guess what would happen next in the movie. I like Insidious because there are a lot of memorable scenes from the movie, like when a spirit which looked like a child but the face looked like an old man haunted Josh’s wife, and how perfectly Wan chose the music for that scene. And I like the idea behind the movie, how human can travel the astral world when sleeping. The movie is so unpredictable. I haven’t watched the second chapter for it hasn’t been released in Indonesia, and I’m really looking forward to watch it.

  4. More akin to The Shining is more to my liking.

    I am a fan of the first and a fan of Wan and I
    have been looking forward to this and more
    so after this review from a writer I trust.

  5. Unlike most people who seem to really hate the final act of Insidious, I found it pretty good. It was a very abrupt change of tone and pace, sure, and it basically became a different sort of horror movie altogether, yeah, but for what it was I found it visually cool, generous with the scares and at the very least a little original. Knock on the astral projection angle all you want but I’d take that over a boring old demonic possession-type story most days (unless that possession story is anything like The Conjuring).

    So I’m really looking forward to this, although I admit I had a few tiny doubts over how he would make a sequel when the first one seemed to have most things wrapped up. But reading about how they actually deal with Elise’s death instead of brushing it aside to allow Josh to go back to normal is encouraging, and if what the review says about how this chapter expands rather than retreads the story is true, I’ll definitely go catch this when it comes out here.

    • See, the astral plane part interested me because that’s something I’ve been interested in for years anyway. That whole “different world we don’t know about, let alone understand” aspect.

      • I’d never thought about it before actually, but it IS intriguing, especially since we don’t know about it. In the movies we always see the ghosts/demons/entities or whatever come into our world but we never get to see theirs, so it’s a pretty interesting concept to explore (and hopefully this movie explores that a little more).

      • This never felt truly original to me, just a minor tweak on an old trope. We even still need a medium for exposition. This article has sparked my interest in seeing the sequel and how it fits with the first.

  6. Holy s***, i loved this movie.

  7. I liked both movies and it’s hard to pick which one I like the most. They are both good and entertaining movies. The movie isn’t too scary since I found both movies to be more of a fine mix of horror and mystery with some suspense at times. I love how these movies rely more on storytelling since I always thought this series’ story and lore quite interesting. They definitely expanded more on it in the sequel by answering questions that people had in the first movie while giving good character development for the majority of the cast.

    There is a specific scene in the first movie that tied into the sequel very well and in a cool way. I was impressed by how well the two scenes connected without the need to retcon or to remake. It gave me goosebumps by how it was executed.

    I recommend to watch or rewatch the first movie because they tread back to the first movie at times that might get you lost if you have forgotten some scenes in the first. Overall, I thought it was a good movie. I can’t really compare it to The Conjuring since they’re different movies.

  8. I won’t give away plot details here, only that this film is a hughe disappointment following the first Insidious, and an even bigger disappointment from Wan following his summer hit, “The Conjuring.”

    Wan is great at telling ghost stories. In fact, he’s the best in the business right now at it – but this is where Insidious 2 kind of fails. It’s comes across more as a Scooby Doo mystery than a genuine ghost story, and Wan’s attempted homage to The Shining falls flat on its face in light of some bad writing. This film doesn’t really provide the jump-out-at-you scares that made its predecessor so much fun to watch, and the story gets badly convoluted and nonsensical, especially in the last half of the film.

    Seriously, if I were holding a brick I probably would have thrown it at the movie screen.

    • Wouldnt work. movie screens are a quite durable canvass stretched over a large metal frame. The brick would be catapulted back either at you or another audience member…which although would be funny, is not really what you’re after Im sensing. Just sayin…

  9. I thought the storytelling is way above average when compared to some of the movies that have come out already. I like the fact that he didn’t force the scares this time around compared to the first but still kept those “hidden scenes” in the movie. Is this movie better than The Conjuring? No, and I wouldn’t expect it to be but it seems he is slowly transitioning into a horror/mystery type of movie now which is great as that will lead into bigger things. I am a huge horror fan and is this movie the best this year? No, but I think it’s a step in the right direction

    • Fair enough, JaredDAC, but Wan needs a better script in order to tell an effective horror/mystery story. We know he can do it – the first Saw had a strong script and was a very good horror/mystery movie.

  10. I thought the movie was slow. There were many frights. This movie was tense, with an intense slow moving plot that reeled you in. I hate flashbacks, but the writers know what they are doing so I guess they are happy with the results. I am not a Patrick Wilson fan but he and the rest of the cast did a bang up job. There’s a lot going on in here so pay attention especially to the ghost. If you give the movie a chance and stop comparing it to the last one, perhaps you will like it. As people were leaving the theater several young men in their 20s were groaning, but trust me, I am sure that when they went to sleep last night they saw several ghosts in their dreams.

    The Conjuring is the best of the two, a great ghost story with thrills, chills and screams. A terrific acting job by Lilli Taylor.

  11. I’m still exhilirated that it’s back ‘in’ for a horror movie to have a good story and creative twists, creepy scenes, jump scares. The torture porn that became the norm grated on my nerves like an infinitely clicking pen. Even the lower quality horror movies now hold against (almost) any saw or hostel sequel.

    • That’s why I only ever enjoyed the first Saw movie. It seemed to be a genuinely thoughtful social commentary while the sequels seemed to be torture porn because the studio and a lot of the audience seemed to think Saw was built around creative yet pointless death sequences.

  12. Insidious Chapter 2 was an awesome time at the movies.

  13. I haven’t seen it yet but I loved this line from a couple of respected film critics and horror movie connoisseurs…

    “Insidious and similar movies of the last few years seem to be horror movies for people who don’t like horror movies. The term coined for them is ‘Cattle Prod Movies’ because they seem to be ‘quiet, quiet, quiet, BANG’ and make you jump through sudden noise rather than being genuinely scary.”

    Which is something I’m going to use for the first movie, The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity and most other horror movies in the last decade. Cattle Prod Movies.

    • Sadly I have to agree, and I happen to be one of those people who are more in tune with these Cattle Prod-type movies, unfortunately. It’s why I found The Conjuring less ‘scary’ than Insidious in a way, because it had fewer jump scares and a little more story and atmosphere. I can and do appreciate old-fashioned horror flicks that don’t rely solely on jump scares and sounds, yeah, but I think the direction of the genre in the past decade has broken that for us. Although I’d say that at least compared to five years ago, we’re getting better movies than we used to throughout the decade.

  14. I am sorry I can’t believe that some of you really think The Conjuring was a better movie? Yes, it was based on a true story but it resembled Amityville Horror too much except the woman becomes possessed. Insidious is imaginative and the storytelling is superb. There were some good scares in chapter 2 and I am looking forward to chapter 3. I know they will be making a second conjuring movie but it will more than likely be centered on the Warren’s. I liked The Conjuring but Insidious was far more original and thought provoking than The Conjuring.

  15. I must say that Kofi Outlaw is becoming one of my favorite “underdog critics”. He has really well thought out reviews, and even when I disagree with him, I still enjoy his reasoned reviews that don’t rely on vitriol but instead on well explained arguments for, or against.

    I will add that I am very much in agreement with his review here. Bif Kudos to James Wan for not merely rehashing/ cash grabbing but instead deepening and expanding upon his original film.

    Here is my review (I previously posted this on rotten tomatoes):

    I thoroughly enjoyed this little dark gem of a sequel to ‘Insidious’ (the original “chapter” being among my top 10 horror films). “Chapter 2″ digs deeper into the mythology the film filmmakers hinted at in the first installment (i.e. “the further” realm, the fate of Elise, the loving mother figure psychic, as well as the origin of the murderous ghost-hag: the ‘Lady In Black’ etc.), and actually goes into all kinds of welcomed bat-sh*t-crazy, unexpected directions. Although admittedly not as chilling as the the first film, “Insidious: Chapter 2″ still manages to evoke a thick, dark atmosphere of dread that most low-rent horror sequels could never muster (the flick is also peppered with some refreshingly dark-comic touches as well as really great acting from almost all involved).

    • *Big Kudos

  16. I saw this movie last night and it was amazing. I think it was way better than the conjuring. I think people liked the conjuring more because it was based on a true story, but when I go see a scary movie i want to be scared at least once! Nothing frightening happened in the conjuring, I still liked the movie but mostly because of Farmiga and Wilson. Insidious 2 had so much going on and kept my interest going the whole time. The last part is probably the best part, soo not what I expected, so interesting and different from all the other horror movies out this year. I was genuinely jumping out of my seat in the theatre! I really really loved this movie, probably my favorite movie in any genre that I have seen all year!!!!!

    • Also, I forgot to mention my favorite part: the smaller part actors really brought some funny dark laughs to the film and with the subject matter being so scary it is nice to laugh every so often in a film like this. I honestly can’t wait to spend another 12.00 to see this again!!

  17. You pretty much messed up the movie, the 1st movie was awsome scary I had nightmares for days and weeks, even my tv turned off on me. You mixed comedy with horror on your 2nd movie wtf!…. You suck !!!!! not scary I was lol thru the movie. Noth worth your time wait for it on dvd and plese dont messe it up even more by coming up with a 3rd chapter!

  18. Well, I just watched the first movie (Insidious) and I wasn’t impressed. All I kept thinking was how it just looked like Paranormal Activity with a bigger budget. If Insidious is better than this second go round, I’ll have to pass.

  19. While I can respect opinions, I really do not understand the hate in the Insidious films. I quite enjoyed them, and personally thought The Conjuring was bad.

  20. I thought it was okay. I didn’t really like the first one, at times I thought it was REALLY stupid with some of the props and stuff they used. The first one for me was a lot better, than the second one though; the second one lost me a little bit, I didn’t quite understand the ending and how it tied back to the first one, for instance when he asks his past self, that’s like 9 years old, or when he gets attacked by the demon in his old house… Didn’t quite understand that.

    The conjuring, in my mind, killed both of the insidious movies.
    The insidious sequel was a really good idea but with things they did they ruined the idea. The conjuring was actually realistic and was played out much better

  21. No Roger Ebert. I’m ashamed he didn’t get a chance to see this one cause I liked his reviews. For me, Insidious 2 was a better movie from the memory stand point. I’m so glad there was no use of corny songs to emulate psychotic happenings like the first movie. The mysterious lady in black is truely a scary figure, and her shocking appearance in place of the husband while tormenting the wife is what horror movies are all about.
    Not to mention the demented female ghost who is as horribly wicked as her previous real life persona.
    Then there are the added ghosts that pop up with the skill of The Paranormal series that put that movie on the map. These were some heavy shockers that credit the director, editing, & sound effects people that sent the audience I saw stunned

  22. I personally enjoyed Insidious 2, it had a good story line and explained the story better. Such as why the door and house alarm went off in the first one. It made me jump a few times and I’d recommend people to watch it. After watching it, I presume there will be a third? Very well done.

  23. Did you just say FF7? Where have I been! Camon Sephiroth!

  24. Love, love, love this movie. Amazing story line. Not a bunch of pointless killings and blood. I want to watch it again.

  25. “No thanks, I like scary movies that are ACTUALLY SCARY.”

    That sums up perfectly how I feel about this movie.

    • +1

      I’d also add “…ACTUALLY SCARY or at least bearable to watch”

  26. I liked both Insidious movies though the first remains better than the second it was still a pretty dam good movie. Insidious Chapter 2 is the reason I will never go see another paranormal activity movie because its a sequel that actually advances the story instead relying on the same old gimmick scares to carry the film. This is why chapter 2 works for me. Additionally I haver never been fan of torture porn either, so both insidious and the conjuring movies were really satisfying for my taste. Also the story telling is great, Chapter 2 is a well written story.

  27. I was a HUGE fan of the first insidious, and I was not disappointed with Chapter 2, I waited so long for it to come out and I left the theatre with chills up my spine. I felt like he did a great job connecting the stories together, however there is one thing I am confused about…

    ***SPOILER ALERT***

    I dont quite understand the part where you see footage from the first movie where the evil guy tried to take the baby and josh (who is stuck in the dark world) is really the one who was banging on the door that alarmed Renai and Josh. Then at this point, Josh, Carl, And Elise are reunited. What is this supposed to mean? Is everything some how connected? How was josh able to go back and talk to his younger self? Any Ideas?

    • The Further isn’t limited by time or space, so Josh was able to affect those moments because of his projection abilities. Or something.

  28. Personally I LOVED this movie.. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since Saturday when I saw it and I think it was just amazing. I hope there is a third one because the ending leaves you guessing.

  29. Insidious 2 has a good plot, and I admired the way that it did not fall into the typical sequel trap of trying to simply remake the original. Rather, the sequel tells more of a mystery/suspense story than anything else. While I liked how the story flowed, I liked the acting, and though the mystery element was interesting, there was just one problem – it really isn’t that scary.

    Honestly, the first installment had enough jolting scare moments that it was a helluva lot of fun to watch. It was kind of like being on a roller coaster ride. Ditto for Wan’s relative summer blockbuster, “The Conjuring.”

    Insidious 2, however, really doesn’t deliver those, and I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed. James Wan has established himself as the best horror movie director in the business right now, bar none. Seriously, I don’t know why Guillermo del Toro is respected as a horror movie master, when his films (Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, Mama) suck. I also admire how he doesn’t get carried away with the “home movie” style camera work (Seriously, I thought I was going to have a sweizure while watching “V/H/S”), which is now way more annoying than innovative.

    And now I have to look forward to The Conjuring 2,” which I heard could have the title “The Warren Chronicles” or something like that.