2 Men 1 Movie: “Insidious” sequel lacks peril, bears stale acting

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Matthew’s take:

Sometimes a sequel is just as good, if not better than, the first installment. And sometimes a sequel makes absolutely no sense if you haven’t seen the first installment.

“Insidious: Chapter 2” definitely falls into the latter category. 

Just to catch you up, here’s a quick and dirty synopsis of “Insidious.”

In the first film, Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, respectively) are trying to figure out what’s wrong with their son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins). You see, Dalton went into a coma after being scared in his new room. Come to find out, Dalton can leave his body when he’s sleeping, and the reason he was in a coma was because his spirit was somewhere else. 

Oh, and his dad happens to possess the same gift (curse?), which Josh’s mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), has tried to suppress since Josh was a little kid. 

In the end, the family enlists the aid of medium Elise (Lin Shaye) who helped Josh when he was little. Lo and behold, Elise helps bring Dalton back, but she ends up bringing back some crazy ghost, too. Elise is killed by demonic forces, and the film ends with a not-so-subtle clue that a happy ending will not be a part of this movie.


“Insidious: Chapter 2” takes us back to Josh’s childhood where we get a glimpse of Elise’s voice being played over an actress’s bad lip syncing. Seriously. The director expects the audience to suspend its disbelief about other-worldly traveling demons for an hour and a half, but he thinks we won’t believe the younger woman playing Elise isn’t her unless her voice is dubbed over. That really took me out of the film.

Then we jump forward to just hours after the first film ended. The family is moving in with Josh’s mom, while Renai talks to the cops about Elise’s death. It makes for a whole bunch of confusion. 

But the story is literally a continuation of the first movie. I suspect the two films could be played back-to-back and, without title sequences or credits, it could be near impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. 

The new film focuses too much on a whole backstory of these malevolent spirits that want to inhabit the bodies of the living. A story can actually be creepier if some elements are left to the audience’s imagination. 

That’s what made “Paranormal Activity” so scary, even in the face of the worst acting ever seen. 

As for the scary factor for “Insidious: Chapter 2,” there were definitely a few startling moments, but not anything that’s going to keep me up tonight. 

It’s hokey, but it’s fun. I’m handing it a C+ for its effort. I might even see it again after I watch the first one once more. I’m always up for a night of bad horror movies.

Jordan’s take:  

“Insidious: Chapter 2” began quickly, leaving moviegoers confused before connecting the new storyline with the old.

I am not a big fan of scary movies because I’m not a fan of being scared. If I have options, I will rarely choose to see them. With that being said, “Insidious: Chapter 2” was a decent film with not as much horror or thrill as I expected.

I went into the movie having never seen “Insidious,” so I had no knowledge about the Lambert family’s previous problems. This is partly why I was confused, but I was with someone who had seen it, so she explained the storyline to me. Right after a confusing introductory scene, the storyline matched up with the end of the first film. 

Certain moments made the audience jump, like when random ghosts showed up close to the camera, but there wasn’t anything in the film that will make me dream of the spirit world at night. 

Outside of Shaye and Byrne, the acting could have been better. The characters didn’t seem to believe in the horror that was trying to overtake the family. Believable acting is one of the main things I search for in horror movies. That’s the main reason why I loved and hated “White Noise” because Michael Keaton sells the movie by acting scared. You can see it in his face, emotions and actions that he is terrified of the happenings in his life after his wife’s death. He made the film believable. 

Some parts in “Insidious: Chapter 2” the actors seemed to be going through the motions. They would be walking through an abandoned house, a ghost would run past and they would jump. Then it would linger behind them, and they notice, but they didn’t show very much of a reaction. The actors didn’t make me believe those ghosts were real.

This movie didn’t impact me like other films have. I still do my best to avoid the static on the radio and television because of “White Noise.” “Insidious: Chapter 2” didn’t have anything like that. 

Another thing that hurt the film was Leigh Whannell’s and Angus Sampson’s characters, Specs and Tucker. They acted as comic relief, but the film would have been better without their ridiculous actions and remarks. The film is supposed to be a horror film. I’m supposed to be scared for my life, not laughing about stupid actions or dialogue.

Overall, though, it had a solid storyline, and it linked into the first film really well with a flashback from “Insidious” toward the end. The horror could have been better, but I liked the film. I would have liked to see Shaye’s character a little more because of the calm and collective way she went about the movie. Her character had obviously studied and seen many ghosts, so she knew how to deal with it. It wasn’t until the last scene that she seemed shocked by what she saw.

I will give “Insidious: Chapter 2” a solid B on the grading scale. With a little better acting and more horror, it could have been a great film.