Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)


This is Nothing Like Being Dead.  I Know.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)When I saw the movie that preceded today’s movie, I remember it building so much tension that I was constantly checking behind me in the movie theater.  Not because I thought there might be ghosts or demons behind me, but because I was so on edge that if any person in the theater decided to be a jerk and poke me, I would probably piss myself.  And then murder him to death to avoid my embarrassment being exposed.  When I saw they were making a sequel, I was confused.  The movie didn’t really seem to need a sequel, nor did the movie seem to leave itself open to a logical jump to one.  But I liked the original, so I decided to give it a shot.  Today I’m reviewing Insidious: Chapter 2, written by Leigh Whannell, directed by James Wan, and starring Patrick Wilson, Garrett Ryan, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Lindsay Seim, Danielle Bisutti, Tom Fitzpatrick, Tyler Griffin, Barbara Hershey, Jocelin Donahue, Steve Coulter, Hank Harris, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, and Michael Beach.

Medium Elise Ranier (Lin Shaye) lies dead, strangled to death by a malevolent spirit inhabiting the body of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson).  Still no status update on Small or Large Elise.  …Thank you.  No one is able to prove that he did it, but his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) is suspicious.  And with Elise dead, she has no one to turn to until she meets another medium named Carl (Steve Coulter) who has worked with Elise before when they made Josh forget about his ability to leave his body while he slept.  He uses Yahtzee to communicate with spirits and gets information from Elise’s spirit about where to go to figure out what’s happening to Josh before something happens to him or his family.

I liked this movie, but I didn’t find it nearly as effective as the previous movie.  I base that almost entirely on the fact that I wasn’t suspicious of random strangers sneaking up on me and using my delicate state against me.  It didn’t build the suspense nearly as successfully as the first movie, but it still did a pretty good job.  I had some problems with the story, but it worked altogether.  One main problem I had was that they let Josh go home.  First, he was suspected of murdering Elise.  Even if they didn’t have the forensics back yet, do they let suspected murderers return home to potentially murder his family and some more people while they wait for the lab to get back to them?  And going off of that, how does forensics NOT make Josh as the murderer when he strangled this old woman to death with his bare hands?  Being inhabited by an evil spirit might be a convenient excuse, but it doesn’t explain how your fingerprints have changed.  I mean, I was wondering how they would rectify the problem of wanting to keep Patrick Wilson involved in the movie even though he murdered someone at the end of the last movie, but that explanation seems to strain credulity.  I do understand Josh trying to make Renai stop thinking about the ghosts, but I don’t understand how he can had not even finished his sentence about ignoring them before going downstairs to investigate some noises.  It also doesn’t really make sense that someone would grab a baseball bat to confront a ghost.  And if you’ve already determined that it’s Josh that’s haunted and not the house, how is there ever a scenario that you would leave him alone with the kids?  But there were definitely some interesting things that happened in the story of the movie.  I like how they tied in the events of this movie with the events of the first movie, and I also liked the reveal about the identity of the Black Bride.

The ghost stuff didn’t always work for me too.  When the haunting started, the first thing the movie used with the intention to scare us was the fact that the piano was playing with no one in the room.  That COULD indicate that there’s a ghost in there … it could also indicate that it’s a Player Piano.  You’re going to need to explain to us that it’s not capable of playing by itself without spirits before I jump to that conclusion.  I did appreciate that they were able to get started with the ghosts stuff because they had already gone through the explanation and stuff in the first movie, allowing them to dive right in for this movie.  Paranormal Activity never does that.  Each movie starts with the ghost being as shy as he was in the first movie, playing annoying tricks until he eventually gets up the nerves to snap someone in half.  Of course, it was a little overt for the ghost to jump right into showing Rose Byrne how strong her pimp hand was.  Most ghosts do more frightening to build up energy so that they can move a penny up a wall, not just diving right into Ike Turner mode.  And then the movie turns into an episode of Ghost Adventures when they arrive at the hospital because most of the movie is seen through their handheld cameras.  I half expected them to run into Zak, Nick, and Aaron.  Of course, the Ghost Adventures Crew don’t get anywhere near this lucky with their investigations, so that worked in favor of the movie.

The cast all did a great job.  Patrick Wilson got to be pretty versatile in the movie since it seemed he was occupied by two different people.  But he was very successful at playing a normal (albeit a bit on edge) guy, and then a somewhat crazy guy.  But someone should probably tell him that, if he wants to have his “Here’s Johnny!” moment, a baseball bat is a pretty clumsy way to accomplish that.  Barbara Hershey’s character annoyed me at one point.  Why the hell would you take your young son into a room with a patient that had just castrated himself, thus indicating a potential flaw in his mental stability?  And what’s more, would you even be able to?  It seems like nurses might have rules against such things.  I found Ty Simpkins annoying through most of the movie, but I can’t tell if that was him or just my natural hatred of most children.  Either way, I got on board with him again when he clocked someone with a baseball bat.  That was badass, little dude.  Kind of lost me again shortly afterwards when he somehow fell asleep at will.  Maybe that’s just jealousy.  I can never fall asleep that quickly!  I’m sure it’s what she was going for, but Danielle Bisutti was a little over the top as the Mother of Parker Crane.  She reminded me of Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, except that wire hangers were exchanged for her kid’s gender and name.  But I’ll give her a pass since she was supposed to be portraying someone that was insane.

Insidious: Chapter 2 is a solid movie that couldn’t reach the high bar set by its predecessor.  The story was alright and even did some cool and innovative things, and the performances were strong, but they did not build nearly as much tension as the first movie and thus couldn’t keep me on edge.  It’s good, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check it out in theaters, but you could also wait for a rental.  Insidious: Chapter 2 gets “In my line of work things tend to happen when it gets dark” out of “Look what you did!”

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Insidious (2011)


Words Are Worth a Thousand Words

Today’s addition to the October Horror-thon is a movie that I had gone to the theater earlier in the year by myself to see and, once I had, I could not wait to own it on DVD.  Instead, I bought it on BluRay and decided to review it along with the rest of the horror movies.  This movie is Insidious, directed by James Wan, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Angus Sampson, and Leigh Whannell.

Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) have just moved into a new house with their kids.  One night, their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is exploring in the attic when one of the ladder rungs breaks and he falls down.  When the parents investigate he seems fine, but the next morning he won’t wake up.  Doctors tell them that Dalton is in a coma but they don’t know why.  They move Dalton back into the house for them to take care of and paranormal events start to take place while Renai is home, but Josh is skeptical.  When it finally reaches a boil, Josh agrees to move the family to a new house.  But the problem follows them to their new house so Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), Josh’s mother, contacts an old friend of hers named Elise Reiner (Lin Shaye), who firsts sends her two assistants, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson).  When they confirm that there is a ghost problem, Elise is brought in.  But she tells them that it is not the house that is haunted, it is their son.

I really dug most aspects of this movie.  The story of the movie is totally solid in most places.  The only place it kind of lost me was with all “The Further” nonsense, but it didn’t bother me enough to dampen my affection for the movie.  I found this movie to be totally scary and (surprise surprise) it had no real blood or gore to speak of!  How does that happen, 90% of all other “scary” movies?  It’s because they set a mood with almost every part of the production that made it more and more creepy.  As I said, I saw this movie alone in the theaters on the recommendation of my friend Jordan.  In the theater, I made the poor decision to sit with the theater entrance hall directly behind me.  The movie kept me so on edge through the movie that I was constantly looking behind me, not for ghosts or anything, but just in case some random stranger would walk up behind me and startle me.  Granted, that never happened, but that’s a major compliment to a movie to make me so paranoid like that.  And what makes it best for me is that this movie was scary without blood or gore even though the director started a series that exemplifies the movies that offer no scares and mostly just buckets of gore: Saw.  James Wan made the original Saw movie and started the whole mess of these crappy movies.  Now, I grant you that I liked the first Saw movie – the one he took part in – but he started the world onto that path that robbed me of more than a few dollars.  That being said, he did an exceptional job with this movie.

This movie uses a lot of stuff to keep you on edge.  The opening credits are a series of black and white photos, and most of them have something small and paranormal happen in them; small things like a chair moving or a man in the mirror.  And then … BAM! … the title of the movie pops out and startles you.  Now, generally I’m not a fan of people calling a startle a scare, but this movie didn’t do it very much.  It seemed to offer that one as a warning.  But most of the scary things happened subtly and shortly after hit you with a scary startling noise.  The part with the baby monitor was a startle (but it still got me even though Jordan had told me about that) and then later the part with the baby’s cradle happened, let you find out what was wrong, and then hit you with the creepy violin music.  And it had a lot of that creepy violin music, although it sounded more like a violin being raped with a power drill.  Not a criticism though, it created a lot of tension similar to the same kind of music used in the Dark Knight every time the Joker was on screen.  They also used something I like that I think Bioshock started and that is using really old music (like from the 50’s or something) in a creepy movie that just makes it creepier.  And this happened in a scene where they had a ghost appearance but made no attempt to tell the viewers about it.  I missed it the first time I saw it, but when Rose Byrne is walking down the hall in her new house, she walks right by the little boy ghost that appears proper shortly after, but she doesn’t see it, the camera doesn’t move towards it, and nothing happens to draw you to it.  It’s like an Easter Egg.  And I don’t usually catch that stuff, so I can assume there are more in other parts that I missed.

The performances were all great, as far as I’m concerned (though I suppose “as far as I’m concerned” doesn’t need to be added as these ARE my reviews).  Rose Byrne was great here and I had previously not seen her do a dramatic role.  She’s in a state of being distraught starting shortly after the movie starts and it just gets worse and worse for her as the movie goes along.  Her kid’s in a coma and she’s getting haunted and her husband won’t believe her and it’s just shoveling more and more on top of her situation.  Patrick Wilson has a different dramatic role, but almost as impressive.  He’s still distraught over his kid’s coma, but he also doesn’t know how to deal with the situation.  He wants to help his wife but also thinks she’s kind of crazy because he doesn’t believe what’s happening.  Lin Shaye was a pretty nice performance too because she seemed like a kindly older lady and really nice and sweet, but then she gets really serious and has a complete turn, but then goes right back to nice.  I also thought her assistants, Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson, were really amusing.  They were such total nerds and completely out of their element.  I liked seeing Barbara Hershey because one of the horror movies I had seen before this one was The Entity, which she stars in and is basically getting raped by a ghost for the whole movie.  I liked her performance in both movies, but the story of The Entity and some of the ways they told it were just goofy.

I recommend you go check out this movie while the Halloween time is right.  I bought this on BluRay, but I’ve also seen it available at many RedBox stands so you can get it there.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  I give this movie a “I’m scared, Mom” out of “Follow my voice, Dalton!”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.