Most people won’t admit when a movie scares them. Every time a new film is released that critics are claiming is the scariest film of the year, immediately on social media, you’ll see claims from people stating they weren’t scared at all. The problem with that claim is, I have to sit in a movie theater with you people, and be distracted by your nervous laughter. You may think that laughing when something scares you convinces those around you that you’re a rock, and impossible of experiencing fear at the hands of a motion picture, but it actually does the direct opposite. When I sear someone nervously laughing at the theater, it is quite obvious that they’re expressing this emotion due to the uncomfortable feeling that the things bumping in the dark on screen are creating within them. If you’ve listened to our podcast at all, you’ll know that we here at The Liberal Dead are the first to admit that Insidious made us poop our pants at the theater. It was one of the scariest movies I’ve seen for a long time. One of the reasons people like to claim that it didn’t scare them, is because it’s rated PG-13, and you can’t be scared by a PG rated film, can you? That’s the popular mentality, but history teaches us the opposite.
I’m sure when most people learned that there was a sequel to Insidious in the works, the immediate reaction was to grumble about sequels, and how the studios just release them to cash in on the success of the first film. In a lot of cases, this is correct, but some sequels truly exist just to continue a story that hasn’t yet reached its logical point of closure. Insidious: Chapter 2 is one of these films. Not only was this sequel a perfect, direct continuation of the first film, but it actually pulled a Marty McFly on me, and fixed permanently, a lot of the issues I had with Insidious. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the first film, and I think it was one of the most honest, upfront scare flicks I’ve seen this decade, but like many others, the sudden, jarring tonal shit took me out of the experience somewhat. The first 45 minutes of that film are just relentlessly terrifying. Then, as we make the transition into the final act, we’re treated with comedic relief, sight gags and a completely different direction than one would have assumed the film would go from the first two thirds. What we thought was a haunted house movie, ventures into Science Fiction territory, with the concept of astral projection. Insidious: Chapter 2 is not a similar film, with a different family experiencing the same kind of strangeness that the family in the first film lived through. It is a direct continuation of the story. After a brief flashback, we pick up where Insidious left off before obnoxiously loud, yet extremely suiting title card before the end credits.
As much as I wanted to see this sequel on the official opening night, Friday the 13th, adulthood demanded that I wait until the final screening of Sunday night. I had been told beforehand, by several people, including Dead Air’s own Jeff Konopka, that while he enjoyed the film, and had nothing bad to say about it, I should keep my expectations in check, because it wasn’t scary at all like the first film. I’m not sure if mentally I was able to subdue my expectations or not, but from what I experienced in that movie theater, I’m going to assume that I enjoyed Insidious 2, at least a little bit more than Jeff. I actually did find it scary. I’m not really one of these people that jump in their seats during such films. The reaction I get is usually in the form of tingling sensation, or chills as some would call it. Several scenes in this movie caused me to experience tension in my seat, as well as create a full body tingling sensation. I think the more consistent tone of the second film was effective for me, and as I mentioned above, it not only flowed better this time around, but it took what little problems I had with the first film, and scrubbed them entirely.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is one of the best horror sequels I’ve seen for as long as I can remember. Exploitation of moviegoers is not the reason it exists. This isn’t Paranormal Activity. In fact, I’d say it’s appropriate that it is titled Chapter 2, rather than just “Insidious 2”, because it really plays like one long movie, when you watch the films back to back. I kind of hope one day we’ll get a special edition Blu Ray, with both the original and the sequel cut together as a single film. This is the type of experience that would lend itself well to such a release. One thing I will say is, if for whatever reason you hated the first film, Chapter 2 is not going to change your mind. It takes all of the concepts we were introduced to at the end of Insidious, and expands upon them in great detail. I didn’t have as much of a problem with the introduction of astral projection as some people did, it was more the sudden shift in tone that bothered me(just a little. I still love the film.) So if you’re one of these people that loved it until the end, you may dislike Chapter 2 even more. Though, admittedly, the fact that we remained consistent in tone this time around helped tremendously. I’ve tried to pussyfoot around, and keep this review as spoiler free as possible. I think I was successful in that venture. When Blu Ray review copies start going out, I will do a far more detailed review. A film like this is easy to ruin. Even the most mundane detail, at least to me could be considered a spoiler. This is definitely something you need to see in a theater. The sound design alone needs to be experienced on a high quality sound system. As nice as your home theater is, it’s probably not going to recreate the jarring soundtrack experienced at a nice theater.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is now playing in theaters across the country. Including Thursday night screenings, it brought in approximately $41 million this weekend at the box office, with a production budget of $5 million.