In our recent story about the forthcoming Poltergeist remake, Insidious was mentioned as one of the many haunted house films that could be considered a loose thematic remake of the trend-setting 80s horror movie. Directed by James Wan (Saw), Insidious tells the story of a family that moves into a new house, only for their son to quickly fall into a sleep-state, with terrifying supernatural visions occurring around him. Desperate to save their son, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) enlist the help of a psychic and her paranormal investigation team to help retrieve Dalton from the malicious forces holding him hostage.
There hasn't been much of a cast reshuffle for Insidious: Chapter 2, which will feature the same family and their allies dealing with the fallout of the last film, as well as new challenges that may arise. This is not so common in the horror genre as it is among other genres; often, the first film in a series will kill off the majority of its characters and leave writers needing to "restock" for the sequel.
Shock Till You Drop has published a set report from the spring 2013 shoot of Insidious: Chapter 2, which includes three new promotional images for the film, and interviews with the cast, director James Wan, writer Leigh Whannell and producer Jason Blum.
The interviewees were obviously being a little cagey about certain details, but they were able to give an idea of what to expect from the sequel. Since the discussion of Insidious: Chapter 2's plot inevitably includes mentions of events from the end of Insidious, you should turn back now if you haven't seen that film yet (or are especially sensitive to mild Insidious 2 spoilers).
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Warning: MAJOR Spoilers for Insidious (and MINOR Spoilers for Insidious 2) ahead!
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First of all, here are the new images, which show Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson and Whannell himself as the film's team of 'Ghostbusters' - Elise, Specs and Tucker - as well as the returning Lambert family and a spooky image of someone (or something) coming through a shower curtain.
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Insidious undergoes a slightly odd transformation in tone about two-thirds of the way through, when the Lambert family go on an offensive against the supernatural forces attempting to wrest Dalton away from them. The aforementioned similarities to Poltergeist come into play when Josh embarks on a psychic journey into a plane of existence known as "The Further," sneaking into the demon's lair to rescue his son.
Perhaps because the low budget of the film limited Wan's resources for building a ghost world and made The Further look a little hokey, or perhaps simply because the change in tone from traditional haunted house story to weird fantasy was a little jarring, many people consider the latter half of Insidious to be the weaker part. It's certainly true that the number of good old-fashioned scares - the set-ups and execution of which mark the strongest parts of the film - tapers off towards the end. Whannell acknowledges these criticisms, but hopes that the shift won't be so jarring in the second chapter:
"One of the interesting things about the first one is just the reaction from people. The first half of the film sets up a fairly traditional haunted house film. It's really well done. And then it starts to go into The Further and these outlandish concepts. James and I have noticed the film is fairly polarizing, because you'd get, 'The film was great up until this point.' We always said, when we were doing press for the first film, we want to throw everything and the kitchen sink with these crazy moments. We could not have made the first half of the film for the whole movie. We kind of liked that it descended into chaos. What's interesting about the sequel, everyone knows that about the movie - The Further and these crazy ideas - these are already established."
Now that those ideas are established, the question remains of how they will be used to further the story. Insidious ended on a cliffhanger, with Josh becoming possessed by the spirit of a wicked ghost and killing Elise (who appears to have been resurrected for the sequel) before ambushing Renai. According to Whannell, Insidious: Chapter 2 will pick up immediately from where Insidious left off:
"This is a sequel that literally brings back everyone. For some sequels, they'll bring back a couple of characters. But, everyone is back, so it's surreal. And they're also wearing the same clothes [laughs] as they wore in the same film. Patrick's here and he's dressed the same... It's a continuation of the first film. It picks up from where the other one left off. It's the second half of the first film."
Wilson also offered a little more insight into the ambiguous ending for his character, and what it may mean for the sequel:
"Selfishly, for me, it was exciting because at the end [of the first one, my character] either gets cured or he's fighting his way back. Clearly, there's a duality of "what happens to Josh here?'"
As an educated guess, Insidious: Chapter 2 will probably pick up with Josh recovered from his temporary possession and determined to fight it, possibly with no memory at all of Elise's murder. As to that last part, it's a bit surprising to see Elise brought back (she did look very, very dead after Josh was done with her), but perhaps another character will perform some speedy CPR. Lin Shaye does mention filming a scene "where you first see me back [from The Further], so it sounds like her deathlike state was merely caused by her taking a short retreat into the ghost world.
A few more snippets and glimpses into the film were given during the set visit. There will be a sequence set inside a hospital, and there will also be flashbacks to Josh's childhood that star Jocelin Donahue as a younger version of Barbara Hershey's character (Josh's mother). Wan also teases the plot structure by saying, "There are things we're doing where the second movie visits the first movie."
Audiences may have been divided over Insidious, but James Wan is a truly talented horror director and Insidious: Chapter 2 is definitely one of the sequels to watch out for this year. Share your own theories on what it might be about in the comments.
Insidious: Chapter 2 opens in theaters on September 13, 2013.