Insidious: Chapter 2

Insidious: Chapter 2 ★★

With Insidious: Chapter 2, James Wan could have gone two directions. He could have stuck with the quiet eeriness of the first two-thirds of the original film (what made Insidious so effective), or he could have carried on the unbelievable, ridiculous melodrama of the final act. Unfortunately, he decided to go with the latter, and that's why Chapter 2 ended up as an uninspired, unnecessary sequel to a solidly self-contained story.

Wan's now familiar visual style is one of the only things that works in Chapter 2's favor, but it only goes so far. He certainly knows how to move and place the camera and this is a large part of what makes him so skilled at creating atmosphere. However, Wan's keen cinematic eye may have started to waver because he made some really questionable choices with this one. Half the time, he trades the slow, smooth pans and strong still framing of the first film for one of the most annoying uses of shaky-cam I've ever seen. This makes the entire film's visual style one big sloppy back and forth between traditional modern horror and found footage style and it just doesn't work. It only succeeds in making Chapter 2 feel all the more ridiculous.

The script is really really really bad and even the solid acting of the first film is nowhere to be found. It's like the whole cast was distracted or they just realized how silly the story was and how stupid their own characters are and decided to turn on the auto-pilot. Patrick Wilson's acting is wooden and uncomfortable which just makes Josh seem like even more of a tool than he already is. Rose Byrne's Renai is even more clueless, helpless, and shrieky than before, and the whole film just feels like a bad pantomiming lesson.

My last big frustration is that all of the scares rely solely on loud noises. The dialogue is infuriatingly soft, so I had to turn my TV almost all the way up just to hear what the characters were saying. But then one of those jump scares would come along and the music would shriek so loud that I'm positive my neighbors upstairs could hear it. Overall, Insidious: Chapter 2 is one big disappointing mess. The first one wasn't a masterpiece, but at least it offered something original and two acts of nailbiting creepiness. If this franchise is destined to have as many sequels as Saw or Paranormal Activity, based on how bad the second entry is, I can only imagine how washed-up and terrible it'll be by the time it breathes its last dusty breath.