Our family of protagonists (Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, and Ty Simpkins) are back, following Wilson’s otherworldly experience in rescuing his son Simpkins from ‘The Further’. They are trying to put things back together, but with the cops sniffing around about the death of the psychic (Lin Shaye) who helped them out, it’s not easy. And that’s when Byrne starts experiencing crazy paranormal activity again. She also is having problems with Wilson, who seems somehow different since coming back, distant even. Enter Byrne’s mum (Barbara Hershey) who does some digging of her own, accompanied by Shaye’s paranormal expert assistants (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson), and a former colleague (Steve Coulter) to see if they can work out what’s going on.
The first “Insidious” worked quite well for what it was, even if it relied on clichés and homages a tad too much. I’m happy to report that this 2013 sequel from director James Wan and writer/co-star Leigh Whannell (“Saw”, “Insidious”) is at the very least equal to the first film and perhaps even better. No new territory is really mined, but it’s creepy, tense, and bloody good-looking, thanks to cinematographer John R. Leonetti (“Dead Silence”, “Insidious”, “Piranha”). Even the hand-held shots are well-done and perfectly framed. See, it’s possible. There’s a really amazing depth of field on show, which I’m always happy to see. Everything looks 3D, even though it’s 2D. The low-level lighting is excellent, it’s dark but you can see everything necessary. Meanwhile, this might be the first film I’ve seen that has had foggy interiors, instead of exteriors. Me likey a lot.
These films are so vastly superior to the “Saw” films, that’s for sure. The story is genuinely interesting, this is a ghost story and not just a cinematic ghost train meant to make you jump, but barely scare you. Whannell and Wan (who co-wrote the story) have done a really clever job here. I like how we see this married couple trying to cope after the events of the first film. Did they really go through that? Was it the same experience for both of them? And Rose Byrne starts to distrust her own husband, feeling as though he has changed. All interesting stuff. Oh, and there’s a really, really obvious reference to the excellent 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, which I really, really appreciated, being a huge fan of it.
Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson aren’t the showiest of actors, but they are both effective in this. Wilson in particular (who I rag on constantly, I’ll admit) is pretty much playing James Brolin from “The Amityville Horror”, but doing a better job of it. Writer Whannell and fellow Aussie Angus Sampson are funnier this time around as the nerdy paranormal guys.
Not everything about the film works. The opener is interesting, but slightly hampered by the annoying trick of getting Lin Shaye to dub the voice of the actress hired to play her character as a younger woman. It’s obvious, and really dumb. Also, the music score by Joseph Bishara (“Insidious”, “The Conjuring”) is a little overripe, even for this kind of thing. So that’s a bit unfortunate.
Clichéd or not, these guys know what they’re doing and have delivered another enjoyable paranormal film. I’m not sure why the reviews haven’t been better, it’s definitely worth it for fans of this kind of thing. It’s no hack sequel, but a continuation of the same story, smartly and interestingly done.