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Director James Wan is just coming off the buzz from his critically and commercially successful The Conjuring and brings us a new horror movie sequel expanding on the roots and characters of the first Insidious film. But does Wan deliver again on what made the first outing so atmospheric and chilling? Well, kind of.
Coming straight off the first film, Insidious 2 takes place in Josh Lamerbert's (Patrick Wilson) mother's (Barbara Hershey) home as they moved away from their house from the previous installment. Though it's not the house that was haunted it was Josh's son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and the demons who have followed them back, except this time they're after Josh.
Wan is a director who knows his craft and he does it very well. He knows how to subvert his audience and create genuine scares that most don't expect. The first Insidious was a well rooted old fashioned haunted house film with a few new tricks up its sleeve and it looked great. Coming into the second installment, everything feels a bit stale. The scares are few and far between, and most of the time Wan delves into campiness that usually jars the audience into something less than scary. Though some scares are effective and at times, especially during the second act, the atmosphere closely matches its predecessor.
The camera work in any Wan film is enough reason to at least check it out once. Cinematographer John Leonetti and Wan work so well together to create a truly cinematic experience as far as horror films go. The camera movements are all carefully selected and are hardly ever static. The camera is a character in Wan's films, it lurks around corners, it hangs onto certain things that the audience needs to see. It's really brilliant and is what makes Insidious: Chapter 2 bearable.
The writing isn't as strong and the dialogue is pretty laughable. Insidious 2 suffers from an exceedingly dull third act, and some very poor payoffs to a couple rather intriguing setups. The performances are strong, especially by the criminally underrated Patrick Wilson. Despite some rather hindering flaws Insidious 2 isn't a bad film, but it's not anything special either. It'll please fans of the series and of Wan, but it won't win over anyone new. I give Insidious: Chapter 2 3 stars out of 5.
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