Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell‘s 2011 creeper Insidious was a box office success, even though the general consensus was that the second half sucked. But since it made a profit, a sequel was only natural. The filmmaking duo have fallen into the trappings of sequels before with the Saw franchise that they started, but for Insidious: Chapter 2 they decided to take the reigns themselves. The result is a mixed bag of cheap jump scares and effective atmosphere that makes you wonder, was this a story that really needed to be told? Now Insidious: Chapter 2 is available on a solid Sony Blu-ray. Hit the jump for my review of the package.
Insidious: Chapter 2 kicks off with a prologue, set in 1986, in which it’s revealed that Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) dealt with his own evil spirits as a child. The spirit medium from the first film, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), tries to rid the spirits form the Lambert family and make Josh forget about his abilities. But since she doesn’t have the efficient neuralyzer from Men in Black, she just hypnotizes him.
Then the film picks up moments after the first one ended, with possessed Dalton (Ty Simpkins) rescued from “the further” and Elise murdered. This incident leads to a police investigation and the Lamberts relocate to their grandmother Lorraine’s house. Josh and his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) quickly become at odds with each other, as Josh seems oddly indifferent to Dalton’s rejuvenated nightmares. And when she starts catches him having conversations with no one, she begins to believe that whatever evil force inhabited Dalton is now all up in her husband’s guts.
I’m not sure if possessed Josh was supposed to be humorous, but I couldn’t help but find his mischievous grin and theatrics comical. Wan’s juxtaposition of horror and comedy thrives during the scenes with paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker (Whannel and Angus Samson). Joining them is Carl (Steve Coulter), a close friend of Elise who hopes to solve her murder. The film follows this trio for quite some time, as they bumble through Elise’s home and an abandoned hospital. The hospital features some of the most effective set pieces, such as a room occupied by numerous murder victims covered in white sheets.
By focusing on the ghosthunters, Wan drains steam from the Lamberts, who helped ground the first film when it got too goofy. In Chapter 2, Josh and Renai kinda take the backseat to the ghosthunters, which spins the film into a tonal whirlwind that just doesn’t work sometimes. What Wan does really, really well though, is establishing the geography of the house, much like he did so well in The Conjuring. The audience quickly gets a solid understanding of the house’s layout, which helps make the lousy jump scares much more effective. Overall, it’s a visually stunning, excessively creepy film, but one that fails to pack a horror wallop due to abrupt tonal shifts and lack of emotion.
Sony presents Insidious: Chapter 2 in 2.39:1 widescreen with a striking 1080p transfer. Clarity and details are rich and the blacks are solid. The 5.1 audio presentation is fantastic, with eerie sound effects utilizing every channel.
The Blu-ray boasts six special features, with an on set Q&A being the longest at 24 minutes. The 16 minute behind the scenes, is a pretty solid, condensed look at the film, which includes discussions of atmosphere, the cast, costumes, props, and more.
“Ghostly Transformations” takes a brief look at the ghost makeup and the practical effects of the film. There’s also a look at shooting in the Linda Vista hospital, which is allegedly haunted. Whannell presents his on set journal, which is pretty funny and cute.
Fans of Insidious: Chapter 2 will definitely flip for this Blu-ray. The A/V presentation is incredible and the extras round off a nice package.