Alas, the tension and fright remain mostly invisible in “Insidious: Chapter 2,” the disappointing sequel to the terrific “Insidious.”
Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell worked together on the story that’s the basis for the show. Their prior filmmaking credits from the “Saw” franchise, along with some other horror movies, have earned them cult status (and that’s not to mention Whannell’s delightful appearance in both “Insidious” movies as a member of a team of paranormal investigators).
These guys set the bar pretty high for themselves in the original movie. If they’re going to continue the franchise, here’s hoping the third installment is creepier, more consistent and more cerebral.
The movie takes up seconds from when the first one left off. The lead paranormal investigator who helped the beleaguered Lambert family has been killed. Dalton (Ty Simkins), has returned from the “Further,” the misty world in which the dead sometimes meet the living.
Dalton’s dad Josh (Patrick Wilson as an adult) is seen here as a little boy who was haunted by an entity of some sort. The family, with three children now, has moved into the home of Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey) while the homicide investigation continues. Josh’s wife (Rose Byrne) suspects that something is off-kilter with her husband, who keeps reassuring her that he’s fine.
The story moves back and forth in time as Josh’s tale unfolds from when he was a child and while he is a grownup. This makes the plot feel jagged, and it doesn’t add up to a lot of suspense, although there certainly are a couple of “Boo!” moments along the way.
All the performers, many of whom are reprising their roles, are quite capable. I like the way the characters are brought together in both the past and in the present. Additionally, there’s a cool nod to one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films (although fans of the thriller/horror genre are likely to see this coming from a long ways off).
Still, the movie as a whole just doesn’t add up to much, particularly when you compare it with its predecessor. The scene at the end is neatly wrought, but it apparently has little to do with what preceded it: The sequence exists purely to extend the franchise into the third film. (I hope the filmmakers prove me wrong.)
Wan, who also directed the terrific “The Conjuring” a couple of months ago, also directed this. He and Whannell are longtime collaborators. Here’s hoping their productions have more of the high-quality filmmaking they’ve shown in the past.