I originally reviewed the first Insidious a couple years ago and found it to be fairly decent. Good but not worth the high amount of praise that it seemed to be getting at the time. The pacing and the tone seemed to be inconsistent throughout, which threw me off. So when I heard they were doing a sequel I didn’t really have any strong opinions one way or the other. One of the things I did like a lot about the first movie was the ending and the fact that this movie picks up immediately after the events of the first made it much more appealing.
The first movie ended with the father of the family being possessed by a malevolent spirit that had been haunting him since he was a child. Since the first movie was mainly focused on his son and the demonic force trying to use him, this time around we actually get the backstory on what the deal with the dad is. Right out of the gate I feel like this movie starts stronger and keeps the pacing much better than the original did. It isn’t a constant stream of scares but there is a consistent feeling that something bad is going to happen that keeps the viewer engaged with the movie even if there aren’t any ghosts currently causing trouble.
I also loved the set design in this movie. It’s not often I talk about that in a review but it bears mentioning in this. The first movie was very much a regular suburban home and the horror was coming from the perversion of this regular home. This movie has the family moving in with their grandmother at the home the dad grew up in. Everything in the house is wonderfully off in just small ways that add to the general unease of the film. I especially enjoy the wallpaper that is very reminiscent of the wall paper in the Haunted Mansion ride. Being a movie that is more about the older generation than the younger one like in the first, this movie has more of a focus on the old, the decrepit, and the outdated. The kids even play with one of those “phones” made from tin cans and string that nobody has used in forever.
There are also some absolutely wonderful choices made for many of the scenes in this. There are a lot of shots where you can see ghosts and things in the background that the movie doesn’t call attention to. At one point while tracking down the history of the possessing spirit, they find a room of dead women covered in sheets that are set up to look very reminiscent of the old timey idea of ghosts as basically people with sheets over them (which plays into the concept of outdated and old things I mentioned). One of the scenes has the child astral project and he keeps a projection of the tin can phone that acts as a line back to his body, essentially taking the place of the classic silver cord that normally represents the connection of the spirit to the body while projecting.
This isn’t to say that it is all great. Most of my issues from this stem from the actual plot of the film. While it does a great job of moving at a good clip and keeping things interesting, it gets super convoluted and nonsensical. Ghosts end up having way more ability to just straight up interact with whatever. The first movie made it seem like unless you were psychic they couldn’t really do much but this movie randomly has a ghost straight up slap the mom and pretty much anyone can see them. Also ghosts apparently have time travel powers and a lot of the weird stuff from the first movie is explained as being cause by people in the second. Oh, and apparently ghosts can erase memories and that works like exorcism somehow? Yeah, lots of weird nonsense.
I’d give the movie a 4 out of 5. I liked it much more than the first one and it had a much clearer idea of how it wanted to present itself. It just also had some super stupid shit at the end.
Favorite thing in the movie: Use of dice to communicate with the dead. Ya nerd.
Least Favorite thing: The amazingly ill-defined powers of the dead.