By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Writer/director James Wan and writer/actor Leigh Whannell have once again joined forces to pick up where the first Insidious left audiences. I was not too impressed with the first installment. Wan’s use of loud noises, loud music and its overuse of mostly lame jump scares, left me more annoyed than frightened. I felt that Wan and Whannell relied too much ineffective parlor tricks to startle their audience, rather than using effective tension and psychological scares to spook them. I honestly don’t know if Wan and Whannell read my review in 2011, but it almost seems like they did. In their second chapter, these filmmakers either omitted or toned down the elements that really irked me in the first installment.  As a result, I actually enjoyed this sequel which takes the story in a slightly different direction and effectively delivers the thrills and frights absent from the first film.

Immediately following the supernatural rescue of Dalton (Ty Simpkins), the Lambert family must contend with getting past these emotional and traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, their battle with supernatural forces is far from over.  The paranormal activity in their home has not ceased and though Josh, at first, seems unscathed by the events, he begins to display some unusual traits and bizarre behavior. Desperate to save her family from further harm, Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) once again consults with the surviving members of the team who helped rescue her grandson.

Even though Insidious Chapter 2 may not be the most original or inventive horror film ever, the filmmakers manage to effectively use their inspirations without making their product a lame carbon copy. Though I had my issues with the first film, I still found the story and concept interesting. However, I found the continuation and direction of the follow up even more bewitching. I actually sat tensely in my seat with my eyes glued to the screen. Wan more effectively delivers the thrills and frights, though I was never overwhelmingly scared.

The end result is an exciting horror film that clearly shows the evolution and maturity of filmmakers who were still honing their skills in the first movie. I also really enjoyed Wan and Whannell’s use of humor which has a greater presence this time around.  The film does have its slow moments and a few failed attempts at scares and laughs, but the film as a whole makes for a fun and entertaining horror piece.

Most of the same cast members return and deliver great performances. Patrick Wilson, who normally portrays a mild-mannered, soft spoken everyman gets to stretch his acting chops here with a more psychologically complex version of Josh. Because they have more hilarious screen time, I loved most of the scenes with exorcists Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Steve Coulter makes an awesome addition to the supernatural team as the permanently spooked paranormal veteran Carl. His a genuine talent for appearing psychologically scarred really adds to the fright factor of certain scenes.

In fact because Wan and Whannell have more experience as writers and filmmakers, the result is a stronger and solid sequel that mostly hits the right notes. I do know that some of the elements which annoyed me in the first movie actually appealed to some people. So it is quite probable that because these elements have been toned down or removed, some audience members might not enjoy this sequel as much as its predecessor. Still, I will strongly recommend that fans pay at least matinee prices to see Insidious Chapter 2. Nothing beats beholding frightening images and content on large cinema screen within the darkness of a theater.

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