Haunted People Chapter 2 (Insidious Chapter 2, 2013)

Insidious_Chapter_2_PosterIn the first film, it was established that part of what made young Dalton such an easy target was that his father had a similar experience with the same spirit as a boy.  Opening in the first film’s tragic aftermath, Insidious Chapter 2 jumps back to that story.

Younger Elise is helping Lorraine save her young son Josh from a frightening spiritual attack.  Here we are introduced to an associate of Elise’s named Carl. When the film picks back up in the present, Carl comes in to try and help the family finish what was started in the first film and save Josh.

 

 

The film gives us more background into the old woman (who turns out to not be a woman, but a serial killer who killed at the behest of his mother).  The ghosts and spirits are as visually striking as in the first film. The same year he released this film, he released the Conjuring.  Wan really knows what he is doing with his modernized ghost stories.  I really enjoy his sense of style and his commitment to the realities of his haunted cinematic worlds.  And again, the sound design is every bit as powerful in Chapter 2 as it was in the first film.

Chapter 2 flows pretty organically from the original film, avoiding a feel of being a tacked on sequel.  Wan is a solidly dependable horror creator, giving real life to a genre of horror that was somewhat stale.

Haunted People Chapter One (Insidious, 2010)

Insidious_PosterDirector James Wan made his name in horror with Saw, which launched a thousand torture themed horror films, though often made by less skilled people.  But in 2009, Wan found himself creating a more unique form of horror.  He accomplished this be exploring an older school of fright, the supernatural thriller.

Insidious tells the story of a young family, headed by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne.  Rose’s Renai is staying home with their young baby and she is the first to notice strange occurrences.  But they start to get more frightening, to the point of seeing things and hearing aggressive and angry voices. Josh (Wilson) is struggling at work, and coming home late, all the while thinking his wife is just unnerved by the new house.  But when their son Dalton falls into a coma, things get more desperate.  Josh’s mother steps in to help the couple, but she quickly comes to believe Renai.  They call in help from an old friend of the mothers, Elise.  Elise is a known psychic and has a paranormal support team.

It is revealed that the house is not haunted, rather Dalton is.  Dalton is able to astrally project himself.  Elise explains he has been likely able to do this so long, that it never scared him.  However, it leaves his physical body available and other spirits are trying to get back to his body by keeping Dalton from returning.

The film is visually striking, with a beautiful combination of old school gothic horror and modern scary monsters.  The primary two spirits attacking Dalton are an old woman with a long black dress and veil and an old school gargoyle type of demon who looks truly ghoulish.

Along with the visual designs of the ghosts and demons, the real star of the film is the sound design.  Much like Hitchcock, Wan gets how important timing of stings and the volume of your surroundings can play in frights.  The use of sound is near perfect in this film, with noises that can be emotionally unnerving.

The film has a good cast.  Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson provide some good humor to lighten the intense atmosphere, but not at the expense of seeming competent.  Wilson and Byrne are very sympathetic as the couple.  The standout is Lin Shaye. She has a warmth and kindness, but also a strength.  This is one of her best roles (and no surprise they keep bringing her back to the films).

Insidious is a solidly made modern horror film that pays homage to classic horror and ghost stories.

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