Okay. So that’s a very bold claim – cleverest I EVER saw? Well, it is definitely ONE of the cleverest. Sequels are usually not nearly as good as the originals that spawned them, but that was not the case with Insidious Chapter 2. It started exactly where the first movie left off, without too much time unnecessarily going over what happened before. The action opens with Renai Lambert at the police station describing the events surrounding Elise’s death with Officer Sendel. The officer is suggesting that her husband is the killer, but Renai defends him strongly, although the viewer can tell that she’s not wholly convinced of what she’s saying.
Of course, we, the viewers, know that Josh Lambert killed Elise – we saw him do it. What we don’t know, and what Insidious 2 will tell us is why.The movie does have some horror story clichés; creaking doors and old houses aplenty. Also, some of the early scenes in the sequel (in which we see Renai and Elise meeting for the first time) were so stilted that I began to think that I was in for a long 105 minutes. Thankfully, the action picked, and the acting got much better for the most part.
And, what ever happened to the demon that was so prominently featured in the first movie? Hmm.
What impressed me the most about Insidious 2 was how cleverly (there’s that word again!) the plot weaved in elements from the first movie, and earlier elements from the movie itself. There’s a scene where the Renai here’s the piano playing but sees no one in the front room when she walks over to investigate. You’re tempted to think, oh gosh, piano playing itself in a horror movie, not too original – but you can’t help but be impressed when this scene redeems itself much later on and we realize what was actually happening. A second example of this takes place during one of the historic scenes showing Josh as a young boy. Elise has him under hypnosis, and is asking him questions, when he suddenly stands up, still under, looks over his shoulder and says, ‘I’ll show you.’ With his eyes still closed, he walks out of the room and points to a door which opens by itself, and, yes, creaks. Again, you’re tempted to think, okay, another creaky door. And again, the scene comes back later on with a good explanation.
I won’t be surprised if there’s a rash of movies that come out next year using this technique.
I’ve read one reviewer who writes for The Atlantic who admits to the clever plot twists, but claims that the movie wasn’t at all scary. Well, I can’t help but that think that he either saw this movie in his sleep, or that he must have nerves of steel. When I saw The Sixth Sense, and that first ghost walked across the screen, the entire theater screamed. The thing about convincing thrillers is that the scary parts have to be set up well, or it’ll fall flat and folks will just laugh (see “You’re Next” for ample examples of scenes that were just plain embarrassing).
I love the technique that both Insidious movies use of hiding ghosts in plain sight. There’s one shot in the first movie in which Renai is doing some housekeeping, with the camera following here through the house. As we move with her through the kitchen, you almost don’t notice the boy ghost standing in the corner facing the wall. In the sequel, there’s a scene where, again, the camera is moving through the house toward the living room with Renai, and just out of the corner of your eye you notice the woman in the white dress sitting near the window.
Well, the movie’s not perfect. Note well, I never claimed that it was the best ghost story I ever saw; for me, “The Others” still holds the cup there. But if you saw, and enjoyed, Insidious, then I would very highly recommend Insidious Chapter 2 to you.