James Wan of The Conjuring fame is back with yet another horror flick. But does Insidious 2 creep up your spine like the last installment, or does it leave you half bored? Critics vote for the latter.
Whether they like it or not, all critics seems to unanimously agree on one point: Insidious Chapter 2 trails after Insidious like a sorry ghost, of the Casper kind (but lacking the cuteness).
"Insidious: Chapter 2 is not only unnecessary but it commits the cardinal sin of devaluing its predecessor. Since this movie is presented not just as a sequel but as a continuation, the first Insidious no longer stands alone. It is now weighed down by a second half that's equal parts incoherent, tedious, and repetitive," laments James Berardinelli on Reel Views.
"It's not the house. It's Josh. That line is uttered during Insidious: Chapter 2, James Wan's follow-up to his genuinely creepy 2011 hit about a haunted little boy. If it seems familiar, it should: The big payoff line in the previous film was, It's not the house that is haunted. It's your son. So, the new version is pretty much the same, only slightly less elegant and less impactful," writes Ian Buckwalter in The Atlantic.
Stressing on the emerging trend of horror sequels that just don't match up to the first, Buckwalter adds, "Horror depends on scares, scares depend on surprise, and surprises are a rapidly diminishing commodity when dealing with the same characters and the same story. Horror sequels are so frequently doomed because their options are so limited. If they try to change things radically, like The Exorcist 2 or Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, they strain so ardently to be different that they wind up as embarrassing parodies. Or they can try to offer up more of the same and suffer from the loss of tension that comes with knowing too much. Wan doesn't have to tell us it's not the house that's haunted the second time around--we already know."
The second faux pas that this film commits is its sad attempts at humour.
"Wan's slapstick ghosthunters haven't got any more amusing since the last time."
"Occasionally he does show what a smart film-maker he can be. In one clever sequence he re-stages a key scene from the original from the ghosts' perspective. But clever isn't the same as scary. It's the unexplained, not the over-explained, that tingles the spine," writes Andy Lea in The Daily Star.
Nick Schager thinks the film is "unintentionally hilarious." Oops.
"Characters routinely behave in absurd ways, none more so than a team of ghost-hunters nonchalantly rummaging around an abandoned hospital at night with flashlights and shaky-cams."
"Plus, there's time travel, because why not?" Schager writes in Village Voice.
Oh dear. Any other fundamental problem with this apparent disaster of a sequel?
Yes, says William Goss. Pointing out its clear unoriginality, Goss writes in Film.com, "As the first film tapped into sick-kid woes for some semblance of subtext, Insidious: Chapter 2 lunges at spousal abuse to carry the same sort of dramatic weight, but the maneuver more effectively reminds one of The Shining, which doesn’t do any favors to a film that is already tied up with constantly reminding us of its own prologue, its own predecessor and, by extension, Poltergeist all over again."
Liam Lacey seconds Gos' opinion in The Globe and the Mail. "What’s left is for genre fans to pass their time checking off the filmmakers’ borrowings (Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist) while home-renovation buffs can ogle the bizarre clutter of Lorraine’s residence. There’s an idea here for a cross-genre TV reality show: This Old Evil House."
So does Geoffrey Macnab. "Don't come to this horror sequel expecting tight plotting or coherent characterisation," he notes in The Independent.
"The film jumps confusingly back and forth in time and between the real world and some nether astral kingdom. The exposition is creaky and the nods to Amityville and Psycho grate."