Enjoying critical and commercial success back in 2011, Insidious was far from a masterpiece, with far too much focus on endless pounding of your ear drums above an eerie atmosphere, but compared to other takes on the genre in recent memory it was a strong effort. James Wan truly impressed the horror market in July with his stunning and frightening hit The Conjuring, and now just two months later he has returned with his long awaited Insidious sequel.
Following the events of Insidious, the Lambert family are grief stricken at the loss of Elise (Lin Shaye) and begin to notice that something is not right with Josh (Patrick Wilson), who remains in denial as the onslaught of ghosts and parasites continues to flood and terrorize their household. A plan is finally put into motion to save him from this strange curse, which leads to revelations of a familiar foe who has haunted Josh since he first discovered his supernatural abilities.
Generally horror films struggle with acting, because it's difficult to perform freaky intimidating villains just as much as it is to play scaredy cat protagonists. Insidious: Chapter 2 sadly kicks off with some noticeably shoddy dialogue and performances that clearly never developed beyond script read throughs. There are times when it all becomes a bit too corny, detracting from the beautiful atmosphere the film establishes with its gorgeous cinematography and sound design (the title music aside). Patrick Wilson easily steals the show, towering above the rest with his consistently good role - it's a shame the rest of the cast had to spend a while settling into their roles before it became convincing.
Though Insidious: Chapter 2 takes a while to get going, once everything is set and the unclear direction becomes more focused things really kick off. The ghostly villains are performed wonderfully, particularly a rather spooky role done by Danielle Bisutti. The Further is rendered beautifully as a dark, foggy but joyfully simple place and the story, while reasonably complex (and sadly at times a bit daft), never becomes overambitious. Frequent scares add a pleasantly unsettling vibe to the experience - but perhaps we could do without some of the melodramatic scripting and jumpies.
Insidious: Chapter 2 does nothing to stand out from the recent horror crowd aside from, well, being good. It's not a groundbreaking experience and resorts to clichés more often than not; but an entertaining experience is consistent throughout the narrative and on an aesthetic scale everything is almost flawless. Above all, it's an enjoyable if uninspired sequel to a horror hit that didn't really need one, and should entertain any fans loyal to its acclaimed predecessor.