Connect with us


[BD Review] ‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ Is Both Ambitious And Frustrating


Insidious: Chapter 2 may very well be the most ambitious horror sequel I’ve ever seen. Not at all the slow burn haunted house flick that the first film was, this second chapter comes across as Back To The Future 2 meets Dream Warriors as directed by David Lynch. I’m not saying I loved the film, but I certainly have to admire the effort and intent behind it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if its totally bonkers approach made it some sort of instant cult classic. I can even see myself liking it more (or less) after repeated viewings but, for right now, it’s a frustrating experience.

After a lengthy prologue (which features Lindsey Seim portraying a younger version of Lin Shaye’s Elise Rainier, oddly ADR’d with Shaye’s voice) the main narrative picks up right where the first Insidious left off and never stops moving. Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell recognize that they painted themselves into a corner last time around, and they admirably soft shoe out of it by further developing the concept of “The Further.” Those of you familiar with the material know this development also means that Insidious: Chapter 2 has to be a very specific, idiosyncratic film – and it may not be for you.

I suppose the true test would be how you feel about the second half of the original film. If you liked the first half of Insidious (and thought that The Conjuring was a giant leap forward that sidestepped that unfortunate tonal shift at the midpoint) but thought that the detour into “The Further” was unnecessary – then there is little here for you. Insidious: Chapter 2 is the second half of that film several times over with time travel on top.

While many of the elements here work, the film simply tries to balance too many components. An interesting thread about a serial killer (and a character who may be possessed by him) is diluted by all of the other moving parts. The same goes for Rose Byrne’s arc, she knows something’s wrong with her husband and she’s trying to protect her family – but all of the intercutting divorces us from its momentum. Patrick Wilson has a ball playing with his more malevolent side, but there’s not enough of it. If you like Whannell and Angus Sampson’s teaming of “Tucker” and “Specs”, they’re less grating this time around but they don’t really fit into the overall flow. Jocelin Donahue is great as a young Barbara Hershey but, you guessed it, there’s not enough of her. It’s frustrating because there’s enough good stuff here to give you an itch but not enough to let you scratch it.

Meanwhile the scare scenes, those slowly building moments of terror where Wan typically towers above his peers, are too prevalent. So many moments in the film are constructed to have this kind of payoff that none of them really resonate. It’s like we’re watching Wan’s B-Sides, ephemera that’s of interest only to people who want to know what kind of stuff might have been cut from The Conjuring for time.

Still, as much as the film doesn’t work for me, I continue to be fascinated by it. In the month since my screening I kept circling back to it in anticipation of writing this review (which initially was going to be a bit more harsh). While I would much rather watch a documentary on its production than revisit the actual feature, it’s one of the rare cases where the risk on display almost validates the work at hand. Wan, coming off The Conjuring and gearing up for Fast 7, may not have had enough time to fully realize his vision – but I’ll take an admirable failure over a lazy sequel any day of the week.



  • WalkWithMeInDarkness

    I’m in the minority of people who love the first Insidious as a whole. The weird elements that creep into the second act and the truly out there third act make the film stand out more for me. The Conjuring was very good, in my opinion, but it’s pretty by the book, where I felt that Insidious went into an unexpected and unique direction. I’m excited to see Chapter 2 and hopefully I’ll enjoy it. Into the Further I go.

    • EvanDickson

      I’m sure you’ll like it then.

    • Mr.-Madness

      i agree wholeheartedly. I highly appreciated the originality and, what some have considered to be, “excess” of the previous insidious, which i found to be very atmospheric and eerie. Sure there may be a level of suspension of disbelief but isnt that what many fantasy and dark fantasy genre films require? I am always willing to delve into another well crafted genre piece, and frankly, i find it hard to understand those who can for some and absolutely refuse for others. Maybe its my willingness to not question the films cast and crew and just sit back and let them take me on a trip. But, isnt that what fantasy is all about? *shrug*

      • WalkWithMeInDarkness

        Exactly. I can understand why some were turned off by the change in tone and the direction the film went, but I found it very refreshing and I like that it’s not really a traditional depiction of the afterlife, but a very theatrical, off-kilter world and I think considering the budget, they executed it quite well. A more standard ghost movie would stay in the physical world. I like that we get to see a living person enter the realm of the dead instead of just trying to fight off ghosts in the real world. I have no problem embracing the weird aspects of a movie if it makes it a little more unique.

    • rogueface

      I, too, loved the whole of the first Insidious, and would give the sequel 4 skulls, probably. It wasn’t perfect, but I had a damn good time.

  • Jonathan

    I really loved the first film as well. Some people got turned off by the third act but like the previous responder said, I really enjoyed the direction it took and how it differed from the traditional haunted house films. I can’t wait to see Chapter 2 tomorrow. I’m going to try and catch an early showing so I don’t have to deal with the awful opening night crowds. Loved your review and even though it frustrated you a bit I’m still excited to check it out for myself.

  • MidnightMayhem

    “I suppose the true test would be how you feel about the second half of the original film. If you liked the first half of Insidious…but thought that the detour into “The Further” was unnecessary – then there is little here for you. Insidious: Chapter 2 is the second half of that film several times over with time travel on top. ”

    YOU SAID IT RIGHT THERE…Insidious IS the further. What would Insidious have been without the further? Another generic possession movie that could be considered ‘well done’? It would have been nothing. The only reason Insidious had so many fans was because of the idea of the further and what it contained. Fans wanted to see MORE of what the further had and what the spirits inside it were capable of. This sequel did an excellent job of not only rationalizing events in the first movie, but also left enough material untouched to be addressed in a third installment which I am convinced will happen. Whoever doesn’t like the idea of ‘the further’ was never a fan and would never consider seeing a sequel anyway – the generic possession movie was already ‘ruined’ for them. For those who love the further, this movie not only doesn’t disappoint, but also exceeds any expectations that they could have ever dreamed about.

    • djblack1313

      MidnightMayhem, no offense but make a lot of statements presented as FACTS but are really not on target (and are blanket statement guesses).

      i’m one of the people who REALLY enjoyed the first half of the movie but disliked (not hated) not the idea and storyline of “The Further” but the cheesy execution of it. the ghosts and their 100% not scary pancake batter make up look completely fall flat. were they supposed to be scary? i admit the old woman (or was it a man actor playing an old lady?) following Wilson’s character was pretty creepy.

      and i may be wrong on this since it’s been a while since i watched the first film, but INSIDIOUS 1 really wasn’t a generic possession movie long before we were introduced to the further. and what do you consider a “fan”? i like a good chunk of the first movie but not all of it so your

      “Whoever doesn’t like the idea of ‘the further’ was never a fan and would never consider seeing a sequel anyway – the generic possession movie was already ‘ruined’ for them”

      statement (as fact but is really off) is silly. so you ONLY liked the first film because of The Further. wouldn’t that mean you don’t really like/appreciate the non-Further parts of the movie since you keep calling it “a generic possession movie”?

      what was generic about it? in fact there WAS no possession until the very end. i hope you’re not the type of “fan”/fanboy who blindly just loves EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING about something (in this case INSIDIOUS 2) or just says they do and could never say anything remotely unflattering about it (even if you genuinely didn’t like something about it).

      • MidnightMayhem

        I really enjoyed the second half of Insidious, and thought the first half was ok. I had wished they would have spent the whole movie focused on the further (which they did in the 2nd) because it was so original. I actually thought the first half was the more cheesy part. It was really just a generic possession movie. Up until it was known that Dalton was possessed (I guess what you mean by introducing the further) it was just assumed it was the house that was possessed(hence them moving to get away). So I guess you could say I didn’t really like the first half of Insidious. I didn’t consider the first one to be an amazing movie, but accompanied by the second I think it is. So far I’m only talking about the story. Now for execution: I’m not really sure how you thought the old woman was creepy. I thought the old woman and demon from the first was a complete failed attempt at creepy. That attempt at creepy continued into the second. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see horror movies expecting to be scared. I do expect to be jump scared, but that’s about it. I go for the story. I think the story of Insidious is great. You can’t expect a movie to be perfect in every way. I believe the story and idea of the further makes up for all the execution flaws I saw. There are some things in second one I thought could have been done better, but I am not going to complain about it. Overall, it was more than I expected it to be and I don’t think I could be happier.

  • CTHL

    I thought 1 was terrible (entirely, only the pre-title card scene was kinda cool), The Conjuring was barely ok though super-generic, but for some stupid reason I went to watch this last night anyways. I should’ve trusted my instinct on this one…

    I’m now actually debating if this was the worst major studio horror movie ever (yea, its amongst Urban Legend 2 and friends). There is literally nothing good to say here. I’m flabbergasted at how you scored this movie as high as you did, it certainly didn’t deserve anything above a 1.

    Just saying, beware… though I realize you probably shouldn’t listen to me since most of you seem to have loved 1/Conjuring. 😛 At least set your expectations to low.

  • hawkward

    nsidious: Chapter 2

    The movie begins at the exact same moment the first one finished, so i suggest you to watch the first one right before because there’s a lot of elements that are linked together and the movie begins rough so you don’t have the time to get into the mood, james wan tried to, but failed at it, which is almost the only bad comment i have to say about that movie.

    There’s a lot of new ideas, very interesting turn of events, a lot of turn of events that you just don’t expect. We still can see the trademarks of James Wan which is to make you feel horror through childish games and contrasting the emotions of the viewers with funny moments/creepy moments. The movie explores every aspects of the scenario that we already knew and went deeper and deeper and added a lot of interesting facts about the story. The movie is very well directed, the sound effects are nice except for some times you’re just not able to hear what the weird voices are saying. It is a good closure to the lambert’s story, but the ending is kind of ‘meh” (and there’s nothing after the credit) oh! and by the way, don’t expect anything from the ”red guy” he’s sadly not in the movie at all.

    i give a 9/10

    i don’t understand why people didnt liked it O_o

    • matt

      So there’s nothing after the credits? So disappointing

  • matt

    Considering that most horror sequels do not stack up to their original. I thought Insidious 2 was pretty damn good. Wish there was some more creepy moments like the first film. There is one scene with Dalton sitting in his bed and his closet door swings open. THATS the kind of stuff I like to see. It deserves a little more credit than 3 skulls that it got from BD.


  • Dr. Detfink

    Overall, I agree with many points in the review. I like Jason Blum’s ability to budget/produce a horror film with his complete trust of talent’s improv/creative license but with a catch, no money upfront. However, the one component that took me out of the horror film were the two nerdy ghost hunters who played it a lot more over the top than necessary. Still that’s a small quibble. I’ll take ambition over the relentless remakes coming off Hollywood’s assembly line (get ready Carrie fans). Patrick Wilson should be credited for delivering some creepy stares. The man has range (see Little Children). Really there’s not much for the actors/actresses to work off of, so it’s imperative they sell every scene. Now I want to re-watch the first chapter right up against the second to see how it flows togther. A third act seems inevitable but for now, I will feel entertained and content by two solid acts.

  • ScarletBlack

    I loved Chapter 1 but only LIKED chp 2. however, I1 kinda through me off with the whole “The Further” thing and all the wierdness that went on there. I2 seemed even crazier but I was expecting it to be. I do wish that there would have been more “make you jump” parts in I2. thats the stuff that I live for: the heart racing, cover my eyes, scream out loud stuff that just doesnt happen in horror movies anymore. overall, I would give I2 3 skulls.

  • ShapeStalker

    I just finished watching this film, and I have to say that I’m surprised by how well it was made. In fact I like it more than the reviewers gave it credit for, as it seemed like a genuine continuation of the original, which is what a sequel *should* attempt to be. It was titled “chapter 2” and thankfully it turned out to be accurately named. And get this: there was positive closure for the protagonists! Which is a rarity in modern-day horror films. I was thoroughly impressed with both films, which I’m very pleased and shocked to say. As for the upcoming 3rd, there will be no need for any of the “Lambert” cast members to reprise their roles. Let them rest.

  • Chrissie-Watkins

    I’m so thankful for this review, I didn’t waste my time. The original, the first half, with the terrifying daytime scare and the retelling of the Lorraine’s nightmare? Yes please! The second half, foray into the Further, which is basically the afterlife from Beetlejuice? No thanks! Plus the fact that Elise tells Josh when he gets there, do not speak to anyone, and he runs around saying “Have you seen my son?” to every spectre he runs into. Silly.

More in Movies