By: Chelsea Turner
Like its precursor, “Insidious: Chapter 2” takes viewers into a world filled with chilling ghosts and petrifying surprises, and into the lives of a family whose plight earns the sympathy of anyone who fears the supernatural. The plot grows in complexity as mysteries are revealed and the spirits assume less anonymous roles.
Director James Wan ties in the second part of the Lambert family’s struggle with malevolent spirits nicely. Beginning with a flashback of Josh’s (Patrick Wilson) childhood haunting reminds the viewers of the source of the Lamberts’ problem, and it segues smoothly into the day after Elise’s (Lin Shaye) death.
The atmosphere unsettles immediately. The flashback of Elise meeting Josh and treating his condition for the first time makes chills run up the spine as she searches the house for the entity haunting him. Though predictable, the ghost-woman in the mirror, the baby toy turning on spontaneously, and the piano playing by itself build fear-fueled tension. Terror becomes more twisted as the reason behind Josh’s haunting is revealed: the black-veiled bride turns out to be a serial killer whose mother forced him to dress like a girl and commit murder. He haunts Josh because he wants the childhood he never had.
This plot is full of twists, surprising, yet reasonable. Several events in “Chapter 2” explain disturbing phenomena in the first movie, both moving the plot along and giving closure to fans of Insidious.
Time has no boundaries in the “Insidious” world. Josh is able to exist in the present and the past while in the spirit world. This allows him to get answers from his childhood self and save his family from ghosts in their first episode.
Questions arise from the element of time manipulation. We learn in “Chapter 2” that in the first “Insidious” when the Long-Haired Fiend threatens Callie and the house is mysteriously broken into, it is actually Josh who opens the door and saves the baby. However, in the second portrayal of this scene, Josh throws the Fiend through the window, shattering it. This could be explained by saying that when things happen in the Further, they do not translate in the real world. Conversely, Renai (Rose Byrne) hears the piano when Josh plays it in the Further.
A new phantom is introduced: a lady with a white powdered face and dark, red-ringed eyes. While not quite as scary as the black-veiled bride from the first movie, this character can still rouse enough fear to make you jump and scream.
Despite some irregularities in the plot, moments of questionable acting, and a scare level that did not quite meet expectations, “Insidious: Chapter 2” matches the first movie in creating characters that invoke sympathy in viewers and a high degree of creepiness. The story line was more complicated, a much-needed dose of humor was added, and Patrick Wilson, despite a few shaky spots, did an excellent job of playing a deranged murderer pretending to be Josh Lambert.