Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

Last year I watched Insidious, which proved to live up to the hype of being one of the better and more original horror films released in recent years. And a few days ago, I noticed that the sequel - Insidious: Chapter 2 - was available on Netflix, so I made a point to watch it.

I'd say that the quality of the movie is comparable to the first. It is not completely free of cliches or jump scares, but, like the first, its usage of astral projection to explain ghosts, hauntings, and possession keeps it fresh amongst a never-ending onslaught of movies on those themes.

Being a sequel, the concept is not as new as it was the first time, but it's not as if its use was exhausted in a single movie. Plus, the sequel utilizes a clever temporal anomaly to keep things interesting, and though you feel that you can predict exactly where the plot is heading through the first half of the movie, there are some welcome twists to keep the viewer guessing.

The astral scenes are also comparable to those in the first movie, creating a fairly creepy atmosphere, with a few pretty terrifying images. The whole setpiece in the one rundown house was very scary. It might be worthwhile to mention that there are some scenes when the cast is exploring some old buildings that are shot partially in a "found footage" perspective.

Spoilers Below!

If I have any complaint about the movie - and it's a minor one - it would be the usage of a certain plot device that's become somewhat of a cliche, where a character's sociopathic tendencies are explained by childhood trauma in the form of a parent forcing them to be the wrong sex.

Not to say that it's necessarily unrealistic or implausible, but as much as I like to see transgender issues come up in movies (and let's be honest, this little boy looked pretty cute as a girl), when they come up more often in this context than in more positive ones, it has a tendency to reinforce the still-too-common belief that a child who really is transgender is being forced to be that way by parents, and that it is an abusive and traumatic experience.

Spoilers Above!

But that's more of a political complaint; it didn't really hamper my enjoyment of the movie too much. I'd like also to mention that the people in charge of casting did an excellent job casting the young version of Lin Shaye's character. I actually spent some time wondering if they just had a phenomenal makeup department, making the veteran actress look twenty-something again - but, to that effect, they also did a great job aging (or rather decaying) Patrick Wilson, as required per the movie.

Long story short, Insidious: Chapter 2 is pretty much more of the same, so if you liked the first one, you should definitely give this one a watch. It wraps up the story of the Lambert family, while keeping the door open for a Chapter 3 - and honestly, I'd be interested to see another installment of Insidious, particularly given the direction hinted by Chapter 2's ending.

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