Starting from where Insidious left, Renai (Rose Byrne), Josh (Patrick Wilson), and the kids move into a similar Victorian-styled clogged house of Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) to start a new life—away from all the haunts and tremors. With medium Elise (Lin Shaye) no more in what was seen as a possessed Josh strangling her to death, the creepiness continues to haunt Renai and later Lorraine before Lorraine takes up the issue to the Elise’s ironic sidekick duo of Specs (Leigh Whannell, also the screenwriter) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Joined by the “second best” paranormal specialist that Elise ever worked with, Carl (Steve Coulter), the primary supernatural investigators of the story come across some antediluvian truths and devastating revelations about the world of spirits, the Further, and the connection of Josh to this psychotic serial killer Parker Crane (Tom Fitzpatrick) or simply, the Bride in Black.
For the first hour, Insidious 2 is repetitive, almost wearisome with nothing much happening—except for one giant slap. The movie treads the same route as Insidious, The Conjuring, and similar horror movies in the first hour. Whilst the designing and decoration of the clogged interiors and the artistic panache of the peripheral setting is classically developed into a retro world—detached and alarming, the story takes time to kick into motion. When it does—just around the midpoint—Chapter 2 picks up changing gears into an intense, anticipatory, and scrupulous movie with demonstrative foreshadowing and intelligent advancement of the story and the action.
Exploiting plot twists and sequences from both the chapters, director James Wan and screenwriter Whannell connect the multifarious jigsaw—linking events from the first chapter and explaining their manifestations methodically in the second chapter to much amazement and intrigue. Insidious Chapter 2 has many confusing flashes, moments of realization, moments of anticipation, and instants where everything appears to click—aha! Courtesy the smooth writing of Whannell and the crisp direction of Wan, as a movie and a story, Insidious 2 utilizes the art of anticipation in building the horrors, and the magnificent art of prefiguring in peeling off the mystery—layer by layer.
The cinematographer, John R. Leonetti, marches a parade of camerawork—twisting, circling, meandering, and filming nerve-racking shots and making use of spooky angles in such congested interiors—almost using the least possible camera-aid equipment. Multiple shots of 180, 270, and 360 degrees garner the screen—turning many such scenes into a mystified ride of creeps and compelling the audiences in experiencing the whirls that the Lambert family found itself undergoing. Complementing the brilliant cinematography and the inspirational art direction (Jennifer Spence/Jason Garner), the sound is perhaps the highlight of this James Wan marathon. Joseph Bishara collaborates with James Wan, again, after Insidious and The Conjuring, and his score carries off the movie for much of the first hour. Disturbing music—creating a disquieting environment—Joe Dzuban is wonderful in mixing the sound and designing horror through timely echoes, noises, and music.
Insidious Chapter 2 isn’t merely a clear-cut horror outing. Hidden below the obvious spooks are some themes of oppression, vengeance, and the all-important, value of human life. In all likelihood, Wan and Whannell utilize the many-worlds and the parallel universe theories in protracting the story—with the possibility that the past, present, and future exist simultaneously in different dimensions and a cross cut in these dimensions result in inter travelling. Developing some excellent creative plots and the masterful use of foreshadowing, Insidious Chapter 2 is a skillfully presented horror movie. James Wan continues with his good work of directing distinctive horrors and Chapter 2 is another honest attempt in a genre prone to abuse and ridicule. With the possibility of a third installment already setup, the ending of Chapter 2 may not be as effective as the ending of the first chapter, but it leaves the door open for another welcoming edition in this brilliant Insidious saga. Wonderful—a horror delight!