What’s really uncanny about James Wan as a director is how consistent he is creating films with both good and bad moments. With the exception of the horrible misfire "Death Sentence," virtually every Wan film for me contains some real bits of genius alongside some daft story turns that give pause. It’s no clearer than in his latest horror opus "Insidious Chapter 2," a meaningful and at the same time inane follow up to his much more even-toned first film. Can sincere and stupid exist in the same movie – it can if you’re James Wan.
For those who remember from the first film (and those who have not have no business reading this review!) Patrick Wilson’s dedicated dad brought back more than just his son, but also an evil spirit that has taken over his earthly body. Everyone seems a tad blind to his obvious changes and most chock it up to a bad experience. But paranormal things begin to happen around the house and soon wife Rose Byrne finds herself once again in a battle to stay alive against dark forces.
"Insidious Chapter 2" already begins on shaky ground with the audience in on the fact that Wilson is possessed and nobody in the film knows. Sadly what it creates is a myriad of cheesy and laughing “at” not “with” bits that take all horror out of the room. Wilson hams it up like Tim Curry ala "It" and I could never tell if Wan was making it funny on purpose or just out of sheer denial. In any case it’s far from funny and makes for some sloppy Chapter 2 moments. But on the good side, Wan goes back to events only referenced in the first film where Wilson is seen as a child and by contrast it’s great work. Sporting a somber tone and the ever-underused Jocelin Donahue channeling a young Barbara Hershey, it’s these scenes that remind us why we loved Wan in the first place. But it’s the paradox of all of the above that is the constant frustration about the work of Wan – he’s equal parts Hitchcock and Corman.
I’m all for humor in horror, but embarrassment should not follow chuckles. "Insidious Chapter 2" feels like the work of someone who had a lot on his plate, simply winged a tone and threw whatever stuck on the edit room wall to make a quick buck. There’s bold brilliance in the hallways of Wan, but uncollected goofy garbage keeps getting in the way.
"INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2" OPENS IN THEATRES SEPT. 13 FROM FILMDISTRICT.
Title: "Insidious Chapter 2"
Stars: 2 1/2
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Jocelin Donahue
Director: James Wan
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Company: FilmDistrict