Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Somewhere there is a critic hoping this franchise makes it to Chapter 11 so he can make a hack joke about this franchise going bankrupt.  Never give up on your dreams, little guy!

Insidious: Chapter 2 – 3 out of 5

Aside from a few scares that genuinely gave me major chills in the spinal area of my body, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Insidious film. However, I have a horror film nerd for a girlfriend and those two scares the film gave me were enough to spend my time (and the ridiculous amount of money it costs to see a film in the theater nowadays) seeing the sequel that shows that continuing story of the Lambert family and their battles against agents of evil from the other side.

                                                                                               FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
"Shhh, I have a secret...Don't tell anyone but...I'm dead."

Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) is concerned for her husband Josh (Patrick Wilson). He hasn’t been the same since the events of the first film; events that included the death of the ghost hunter Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). Josh seems distant and very much unlike the man she married (of course he is, did you see what he did at the end of the last one?) but things get worse when she sees her son may have the abilities to travel to the other side and that the hauntings they thought had ended where still lurking around them. Soon, her mother-in-law Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), a former colleague of Elise (Steve Coulter) and the bringers of unfortunate comic relief in the first film; Specs (co-writer Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), have discovered a horrible truth from Josh’s past and that, after he saved his son from the Darth Maul demon that lived in a Steam Punk paradise in the first film, he may have brought something back with him…

                                                                                                 FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
"We're just one big happy big, haunted as fuck, happy family."

Like I stated before, I wasn’t too keen on the first film (Wow, I really just typed “keen.”). All I heard was good things about the film so I took a chance but found a movie that was incredibly boring during its opening build up. Eventually, the film came to a part where it really creeped me the fuck out and I thought that I made it passed the bad part and was on my way to a sea of scares…sadly, I didn’t get that. Instead, Specs and Tucker show up and the film uncomfortably forced some humor into its now devoid hollow of missing scares and then everything goes out the window in the final act as things just enter into something that looks like a drug-fueled frenzy. The entire film felt out of balance and nothing about it felt like it belong to other elements of the movie. I just found it messy. However, I found I enjoyed this sequel much more.

                                                                                                 FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
I looked exactly the same after my third day of reading all the bullshit statuses about
Miley Cyrus and the twerking ordeal at the VMAs.

First off, there’s no boring opening half of the film that rewarded me with only two amazing scares and then decides to slap me in the face for the rest of the running length. Right off the bat, this movie is all about the spooky. While the film is mostly a collection of generic “jump” sequences where the ghost/demon/anonymous threat jumps out at you, director James Wan does this better than most cliché horror films by establishing a real sense of foreboding horror, dread and fright throughout the film. The home the Lamberts are living in is terrifically crafted into an unsettling establishment thanks to his use of dynamic camera movement, shadowy lighting, great music and impressive camera positioning. Chapter 2 is one of the few times in the genre of horror where watching the played-out scene of a girl walking slowly towards an unidentified sound actually gave me goose bumps and not a case of incurable yawns. And it’s all thanks to what Wan did behind the camera (seems kind of a waste now that he decided to no longer do horror films).

                                                                                                 FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
There's no way this scene doesn't have to do with wire hangers.

The film is also very strong thanks to Patrick Wilson’s acting (who seems to have decided to only do horror flicks now). Wilson pulls double duty in this film as we get to see the strong, protective side of him as a father trying to shield his family from harm but we also see a darker side to him thanks to the evil that is surrounding him. Wilson is fantastic in both aspects and really carried the movie well as he was able to make some of the strongest emotional scenes and also some of the damn creepiest ones.

                                                                                              FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
Fun Fact:  There is a little Dr. Manhattan penis lighting up that lantern.

Sadly, Rose Byrne doesn’t match the performance of her fictional husband. For the most part, Byrne really brings nothing to the role of Renai other than being able to look at things with a frightened gaze of wide eyes and a jaw that refuses to close. While Byrne was involved in some of the spookiest scenes in the film, I felt she brought nothing of value to the scenes she was in other than just looking horrified. Since the scenes involved having the scary shit play AROUND her, her presence and response to the supernatural threat didn’t do much to accentuate the terror unfolding around her. Unfortunately, anyone, or even no one, could have been in these sequences and they still would have been terrifying.

                                                                                                 FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
I'm assuming all her lines of dialogue in the script came with the direction, "Look Scared!"

Since Specs and Tucker are back in this film, Insidious: Chapter 2 has brought back the comedic relief as well but, unlike the first film, it didn’t feel out of place or annoying to me. This time around, the gags and jokes sprinkled around the story and script felt like they belonged and were used to break tension and kept the film from getting too heavy and, more importantly, used to just make the movie fun as well as scary. I can’t help but think this was one of the biggest improvements of the film as this movie would, at one moment, leave my skin crawling with creepy moments and then, a moment later, having me busting a lung from laughter.

                                                                                                 FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
Boy, these two sure watch "Two Girls, One Cup" with the focus of a laser beam.

Despite being a vast step forward from the first one for me, Chapter 2 still had its drawbacks. Even though I liked the fact I didn’t have to wait for some decent scares this time around, most of the scares are still pretty generic and, I hate to admit it, weak and lame. While Wan did a fantastic job of making the atmosphere spooky and creepy, I still had to sit through one jump scare after the next. Granted these scares were done better than 99% of the other horror films released (especially “found footage” films—a horror sub-genre built upon the jump scare), there’s no denying that the scares placed within the story lacked imagination…but I won’t lie, two or three times I jumped out of my seat and nearly screamed like the 150 teenage girls that polluted the theater I saw it in.  I didn't, however, say, "OMG, that's was, like, totally scary," before laughing hysterically and then pulling out my phone and sexting someone...or whatever the hell teenagers do nowadays.

                                                                                                 FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
The man boobs did provide a good scare though.

Another major complaint I had (which, interestingly, is actually a minor thing in the film) was the mysterious decision to have some strange dialogue overdubbed in the beginning of the film. When the movie opens, we see a scene from Josh’s past and we see that the first movie wasn’t the only time he’s crossed paths with Elise. Since this sequence takes place in Josh’s childhood you can’t have Lin Shaye playing a younger version of herself so she is played by actress Lindsay Seim…BUT, and here’s the weird part, production decided to have Shaye’s voice added to the Seim’s performance. While this complaint may come off extremely nitpicky, this made the film feel really strange as I had to watch an entire opening sequence that involved a young actress (playing the younger part of an established character) speak with the voice of a much older woman…and they didn’t overdub it well because it looked like Seim was the ventriloquist dummy to Shaye. The only real reason this is a complaint is because it starts the film on a really bad note.

                                                                   FilmDistrict/Stage 6 Films
"Alright men, let's smoke out those rockin' horses!"

Insidious: Chapter 2 had some issues for me but I enjoyed it to a greater extent than I did the first film. While the scares were cheap, they are done better than most horror films that are produced on a yearly basis and it’s all thanks to James Wan painting a creepy tone, with his paint brush being the camera and the lighting (some decent makeup helped too). The film also does a tremendous job of tying together the first film to this one and, ultimately, made the films feel like they should be viewed one right after the other. This sequel ties up loose ends that were left flapping in the wind of the first one and adds a new level to the first film that makes me believe that both films should be edited together (maybe with a slight intermission in-between like they used to do in older films) into one great film because this second half really improves the first film and, putting both together like some sort of horror film Voltron, would make for an amazing horror film epic.

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