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Insidious: Chapter Two (2013)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/24/2013

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/20/2013

There needs to be a word for it -- that unsteady feeling you get when you learn that there is going to be a sequel to one of your favorite movies. On the one hand, you're excited that a beloved story or familiar characters will be revisited. On the other hand, there's the fear that it will be yet another bad sequel. I've made no secret of the fact that Insidious is my favorite horror film in recent memory. While that is a truly solid movie, it ended with a twist and somewhat of a cliffhanger, so a continuation of the story wasn't a completely ludicrous idea. However, Director James Wan and Writer Leigh Whannell created something special with their micro-budgeted film, so recreating that effect would be difficult. So, it was with very mixed emotions that I approached Insidious: Chapter 2.

Insidious: Chapter Two begins not long after the conclusion of the first film. As you'll remember, the Lambert family was dealing with supernatural disturbances in their home. Son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), who has the ability to astral project, had wandered into a limbo-like place called "The Further". His father, Josh (Patrick Wilson), who shares this power, rescued his son from this dark place, and everything seemed fine until Josh attacked psychic Elise (Lin Shaye), killing her. Now, the family, including mother Renai (Rose Byrne), and other children, Foster (Andrew Astor) and Kali (Brynn/Madison Bowie), have moved in with Josh's mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey). However, the disturbances have not stopped. While the police investigate Elise's murder -- for which Josh is a suspect -- Lorraine calls Elise's former assistant, Carl (Steve Coulter), in to help, as well as Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), who had been working with Elise at the time of her death. They begin to investigate the woman in black who had haunted Josh for most of his life. While Josh continues to act somewhat strange, the group learns that the woman in black has crossed paths with their family before and that she is more deadly than any of the other entities they've encountered.

Insidious was the little horror movie that could. Shot for less than $1 million in 2010, the film played some festivals and began to generate buzz. When it hit theaters in 2011, Insidious get a lot of word of mouth and grossed over $50 million. What made that movie so special? Using Poltergeist as a blue-print, Wan and Whannell took the haunted house movie and ratcheted up the tension to nearly unbearable levels. Then, they put a new spin on what causes a "haunting" and re-imagined the other side. The result was a movie which was incredibly creepy, imaginative, and truly stayed with you after watching it. So, like so many times before, a sequel was immediately ordered to capitalize on the success of the first film.

With Insidious: Chapter Two, Wan and Whannell have decided to take some of the less significant moments from Insidious and expand on the story. In the original, the woman in black seemed very incidental, but she has come to the forefront in Insidious: Chapter Two and her story takes center stage. Whannell has created a clever script which neatly ties into the first movie without ever feeling tacked-on or cheap. I found myself nodding in approval as the tale of young Lorraine (played by Jocelin Donahue) did a great job of tying in past and present events. The other issue tackled by the film is the aftermath of Elise's death. Of course, I couldn't help but wonder why Josh wasn't in jail (this is addressed). Josh's story also takes some interesting turns and there's one great twist which moves the film along in a subtle way.

Wan and Whannell knew that they probably couldn't make a movie as surprising as Insidious, so they decided to make a slightly different one. There are certainly some good jump scares in Insidious: Chapter Two, but it simply doesn't muster the same level of creepiness and doom as the first film. (Part of this may be due to the fact that they decided that a haunted Exersaucer was the way to go.) That's not to say that Wan has lost his gift for creating disturbing images, as the ghosts still look spooky, and a hidden room reveals a decidedly gruesome scene. (Also, Wan has jacked up the color palette to Argento-like levels in some scenes.) Whereas the movie isn't as scary as Insidious, the story is actually more intriguing, so it still makes for a satisfying experience. I can't say that Insidious: Chapter Two is a perfect sequel, but given the overally tricky nature of simply making a competent sequel, Wan and Whannell have done a fantastic job and I can't wait for Insidious: Chapter Three.

Insidious: Chapter Two actually does something with the hackneyed haunted hospital idea on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 26 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and this transfer really shows off Wan's new, bolder colors. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth is notable. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a very active track which provides quality stereo and surround effects. The surround effects are often highly detailed and we hear individual sounds coming from the house. The subwoofer effects work as well, providing the appropriately placed "boom" during the shock scenes.

The Insidious: Chapter Two Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extra features. "Peripheral Vision: Behind the Scenes" (15 minutes) is loaded with comments from James Wan and Leigh Whannell who are clearly very excited about the project. Along with some on-set footage and comments from the cast, the duo tell us about how the story came together and what it was like to make a sequel. "Ghostly Transformations" (7 minutes) focuses on the ghost makeup used in the film. Wan also touches on the look of the movie. "Leigh Whannell's Insidious Journal" (8 minutes) contains a load of behind-the-scenes footage, combined with comments and narration from Whannell, who describes what it was like to be both a writer and an actor. "Haunted Hospital: On Location" (9 minutes) focuses on the Linda Vista Hospital, which has been used in many movies. Members of a Los Angeles paranormal investigations group share stories about the location. "Work in Progress: On Set Q&A" (24 minutes) is exactly what it sounds like. The principal players in the making of the film take questions from a group. "Insidious: Spectral Sightings" (12 minutes) is a three part series of shorts which feature Specs, Tucker, and Elise.

Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long