Insidious 2 Review: Explores the Further but Forgets to Scare
Insidious 2 picks up directly after Insidious ends, and it winds back and forth between adding new dimensions to the story and explaining things that were mysterious from the first movie. This is both a good and a bad thing, depending on how much as an audience member you wanted the explanations, and maybe on how much you remember from the first film. I don’t know why anyone would see the second movie first, but I’m sure there are some very very confused people out there somewhere right now.
For me, I didn’t feel like there was a need for a sequel in the first place, so I wasn’t keen on watching the creepy things from the first movie brought into the light and explained. I really liked that the movie didn’t tell you whether it was Josh that made it back from the Further or the entity that had been haunting him took over his body and went back instead. I was betting that it wasn’t Josh in there, but I’m not telling which way the movie goes.
Once the movie starts, there are plenty of clues to look for that will give you a hint before Insidious 2 comes right out and smacks you in the face with the answer. The Further ended up reminding me less of the Spirit World from Poltergeist this time around, and I liked most of the scenes set in it. It wasn’t exactly a scary place though, more just dark and sort of creepy.
There’s a distinct lack of subtlety in this film that comes from having laid bare a lot of mystery in the first one and now that you know why the Lambert’s are being haunted there’s no real reason to play coy with the ghostly action. This kills a lot of the tension in most scenes, and there weren’t really any new scares on tap that I really cared for. The lack of scares didn’t bother me, I honestly hadn’t expected them anyway, but there was a definite attempt in this movie to substitute creepy things for scary ones. The dead old lady with nasty make-up and a penchant for talking much too closely and a wrinkly, mostly naked dead guy repeating, “He’s got your baby” were sort of unnerving, but I can’t imagine that they caused anything but minor chills in all but the most easily frightened of audience members.
Insidious 2 expands the parts of the minor characters from the first film in new and interesting directions, although there were times when I felt I was back watching The Conjuring, due to there being a bit of crossover thematically, especially when they were investigating Elise’s ghost communicating room. They add a lot of humor, which would’ve worked better as a balm for scary scenes if there actually had been any. Still, any scene where we weren’t watching the Lamberts try to ignore the weird stuff happening around them was worthwhile in my book.
We get more of the backstory of Josh’s haunting, which makes me question a bit the decision of the Lamberts to move into Josh’s childhood home, where all the scary stuff started. While we know Josh doesn’t remember, why doesn’t his mother consider that something might happen to trigger another haunting? Yeah, I know it’s not the house that’s haunted but there’s not even a discussion about it and that bothered me.
That being said, I enjoyed the exploration of Josh’s past and how his experiences then intertwine and inform the audience about some things in the current situation.
Insidious 2 is more of a supernatural mystery movie than a straight horror flick. Rather than being reminiscent of Poltergeist and other ghost movies, Insidious 2 has strong elements of The Shining but also enough unique elements to allow it to stand on its own, as long as you’ve seen the first one.