The song remains the same.
Insidious 2 picks up right where the first one ends. I will not be relinking the actors here, since they stayed the same. However, if you have not watched the first one you might want to turn back here. There will inevitably be spoilers in this review.
At the end of Insidious we learn that Josh is possessed by the Bride in Black. The story opens with Renai talking with the police, and this is an important scene because Josh is the only real suspect.
Oh, wait a minute, the film starts in the past. Yeah… This is weird. They have Lin Shaye’s voice dubbed over Lindsay Seim, who plays the young Elise. A lot of critics have zeroed in on this moment, and they were right to. It is weird as hell to have Shaye’s voice coming out of a twenty-year old. I have no idea what the filmmakers were thinking, and it is a terrible mistake. The start of any movie, but perhaps mostly horror, is incredibly important. The tone of the film and the audience’s willingness to go along with the narrative must be accomplished quickly. The decision to have this incredibly jarring scene at the beginning doesn’t make any sense. You will be sucked out of the film before you even see the main characters.
Anyway, back to the meat of the narrative. The film continues to make weird decisions in plot points. The police more or less drop their investigation about 1/3 of the way into the film. Ignoring this aspect of the plot is somewhat insulting to the audience—it also simply does not make sense.
Aside from specific moments that reflect odd choices, there are a few major themes in this movie that hurt the quality. The first is probably the most obvious, we once again have a member of the family in the further who needs rescuing. The film works to separate itself from the first, but there is a hint a familiarity with a lot of the scenes. The second major flaw is that the characters don’t function as realistically. Renai’s character seemed a bit slow on the take in the first film, but it didn’t seem so ridiculous. Byrne is more or less sleepwalking through most of this film, and that doesn’t fit her character at all.
Perhaps the greatest sin is that Josh’s possessor seems to know how to act. Sure, you get a couple suspicious glances, but more or less everyone just goes about their business. The suspicion that Josh is possessed is given the same dramatic treatment as forgetting your wallet at home on a night out. Since the characters don’t really seem to give a shit, it is hard for the audience to be invested.
A flaw and a saving grace is that the film splits the characters apart. Elise’s friend Carl (Steve Coulter) helps in the investigation of what or who is possessing Josh. Carl’s character adds a lot of texture to the role (filling in for the absent Elise) and his scenes are a breath of fresh air. He is the best at seeming to appreciate the stakes of the narrative, and (at least for me) this made his plotline a lot more interesting.
Insidious 2 actually has a couple genuinely scary scenes involving Dalton. It is unfortunate that this level of terror was not sustained. Plot advancement took the place of genuine scares, and when our characters venture back into the further in the final act it starts to feel a little too familiar—particularly when they recycle scenes from the first film.
The movie is messy, but I did enjoy it overall. I know that I am in the minority here, but I like the universe that the Insidious films have created up to this point. While the film is deeply flawed, it still functions as a fun horror experience. However, the sequel begins to move the film into more of a niche category. If you are starving for more Insidious give this one a shot. If the first film didn’t grab you, then you should probably pass on this one, 5/10