UK Release Date: 13th September 2013
Runtime: 106 minutes
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Steve Coulter
Synopsis: After Josh’s return from the Further, the Lambert family are still being haunted by a demon from the other side. And this one has murder on its mind.
James Wan is the closest thing modern cinema has to a horror maestro. This year’s The Conjuring was an absolute triumph, marking out Wan as a true scholar of the genre. Unfortunately, his disappointing 2011 film Insidious was an enormous hit and has now spawned a wholly unnecessary sequel. As well as being the film no-one really wanted, it also happens to be completely and utterly terrible.
Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) are trying to return to normal after the disastrous events of the first film and the violent death of paranormal expert Elise. Soon, strange things start happening again and the family must delve back into the Further, with the help of Elise’s friend Carl (Steve Coulter), to get their life back.
There’s a downside to James Wan’s familiarity with the horror genre. Insidious: Chapter 2 doesn’t have an original bone in its body, liberally pilfering from a number of horror classics from the last few decades. Villain Parker Crane has more than a touch of Psycho’s Norman Bates in his DNA and Patrick Wilson spends the film’s bloated runtime morphing gradually into Jack Nicholson’s character from The Shining.
Crucially, this time, it’s impossible to forgive Wan’s casual remixing because there’s something missing: fear. More than perhaps any of the bad horror films released this year, Insidious: Chapter 2 is completely free of scary moments. It seems that all of the talent Wan demonstrated when making The Conjuring has completely eroded. Either that’s the case or, like the audience, he just couldn’t be bothered.
What Insidious: Chapter 2 does have is an abundance of what Nigel Floyd has quite brilliantly called “cattle prod cinema”. Throughout the film, there are a number of quiet, quiet, quiet, LOUD scenes that try their best to be terrifying, but are actually far closer to lazy and pathetic.
This is, quite simply, a film that the world didn’t need. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne both put in solid performances, but neither are given the material to work with by Leigh Whannell’s lacklustre script.
It’s a shame that James Wan’s horror swansong will be a film as appalling as Insidious: Chapter 2. But unfortunately, it’s symptomatic of a genre where risk taking must now play second fiddle to simply producing a lazy, unoriginal retread of things that have gone before.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.