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Insidious: Chapter 2
3.5/5
dir James Wan
scr Leigh Whannell
prd Jason Blum, Oren Peli
with Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Andrew Astor, Michael Beach, Jocelin Donahue, Garrett Ryan
release US/UK 13.Sep.13
13/US EOne 1h45
Insidious: Chapter 2
Family meeting: Hershey, Wilson, Simpkins and Byrne

shaye whannell wan
See also:
Insidious (2011)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Insidious: Chapter 2 Wan and Whannell return to their 2011 hit with a vengeance, gleefully filling in the story before, after and even during that first chapter with even more gonzo nuttiness. They have so much fun throwing nasty things at us that we can't help but be both unnerved and entertained.

Right after they banish that nasty ghost and get their son Dalton (Simpkins) back, Josh and Renai (Wilson and Byrne) move with their three kids to live with Josh's mother Lorraine (Hershey). But strange things start happening all over again, and now Lorraine realises that all of this relates to an incident from Josh's childhood. But ghostbuster Elise (Shaye) can't help them this time, so they turn to her two cohorts (Whannell and Sampson), while Lorraine calls in an old family friend (Coulter).

Once again, Wan is having fun with virtually every haunted house movie cliche, packing each scene with apparitions, strange noises, moving objects, slamming doors, crying babies, you name it. And Whannell's script playfully digs around in the original film, redefining things with inventive revelations that add a whole new layer to the saga. The film also continually shifts gears, so as viewers we can't get comfortable for very long before we're badly shaken.

Once again, the unusually solid cast helps make this work better than it should. Wilson adds intriguing shadows to the increasingly desperate Josh, while Byrne has real fear in her eyes as she begins to suspect what's going on here. Shaye's role is understandably smaller this time, but when she's on screen she livens everything up considerably, as do her hilariously distracted sidekicks. And even Hershey gets a couple of strong scenes before everything cuts loose.

In the end there isn't much to the film. It's definitely an exercise in style over substance, as the explanations for what's happening are pretty simplistic, even if they allow for several good jolts along the way. And a lot of the film's chilling tone is caused by technical trickery, as Wan deploys lots of disorienting visuals and nerve-jangling music and sound effects. But the humour plays into the terror perfectly, and we probably wouldn't mind revisiting these people again. Because surely they haven't quite banished all their demons yet.

cert 15 themes, violence 16.Aug.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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