FILM FANS: 'Insidious: Chapter 2' is ultimately unsatisfying

EDITOR’S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: “Insidious: Chapter 2.” Want to be a Film Fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

1 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

This movie reminded me of my days at summer camp when we would all gather around the camp fire and tell spooky ghost stories, some good, some not so good. This one, unfortunately, is one of the latter.

James Wan directed it and he has recently made a name for himself in horror movies as a writer and as a director. His earlier film this year, “The Conjuring,” was reasonably successful and also spoken well of by the critics. I’m afraid “Insidious: Chapter 2” will not be anywhere near as well accepted.

It begins by filling in a few holes from part one, and shows us the younger Josh and his family’s first encounter with Elise (the medium) who discovers his hidden talent to “travel” outside his human vessel. This sets the stage for a flashback later on, that’s needed to fill in the holes in this story as the plot thickens. Fast forward to the modern day Lambert family and their latest plague of ghosts and ghouls which continue to pursue them with the goal of possessing them while killing anyone whogets in the way. SPOILER ALERT: This time it’s Josh who gets taken over and his “traveling” spirit is marooned in “the Further” while his possessed vessel harasses and attacks his family (a la “The Shining”). Too many things jump out to scare and startle us, much like a carnival fun house. Enter Elise from part 1 who comes back from beyond to save Josh and his family. Wow!

Part one was OK, but a little trite. “Chapter 2” is more preposterous than insidious, and unfortunately the final scene is an obvious teaser for yet another sequel. I suggest they make it into a made-for-TV series, that way we could at least change the channel to check the football scores.

— Steve Kalberg, Lawrenceville

2 out of 4 stars

Movie sequels rarely live up to their predecessors — especially in the suspense/horror genre — and “Insidious: Chapter 2,” regretfully, falls into this category.

The good news: most of the original cast is back, including Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne (as Josh and Renai Lambert) and Barbara Hershey (as Josh’s mother, Lorraine). Director James Wan also returns and shares a co-writing credit with Leigh Whannell (who stars again as Specs). The opening scene, as well as several flashbacks, are set in 1986 (complete with big hair and period clothing) and fill in the gaps of the story from the first film. Those who saw 2011’s “Insidious” will surely appreciate these moments, but it all might seem a bit confusing to those who missed the original.

The greatest weaknesses of “Chapter 2” are the inane script and wooden performances, particularly from the supporting players. Wan’s attempt to balance the suspenseful moments with dry, sarcastic humor is uneven; while a little humor in a suspense film can be effective, “Chapter 2” has more laughs than scares. You can probably predict that the final scene leaves the door open for another installment.

“Insidious: Chapter 2” may have plenty of creaky doors, mysterious whispering voices, and a couple interesting plot twists, but is ultimately unsatisfying.

— Paul Tate, Sugar Hill

3 out of 4 stars

“Insidious: Chapter 2” is the second movie this year that director James Wan has succeeded in which the previous movie was “The Conjuring.” I think if you can make two good movies in one year, he is definitely a great talent.

“Insidious” is a creepy and fun horror film that I had a fun time watching. It had great performances and terrific stylistic imagery. There are really good uses of sound, set pieces, props and of course the makeup. Having a good makeup artist for a horror film really helps make it scary and realistic for the audience.

Although the story in this film got a little goofy from time to time, the actors really helped ground it in reality because the actors gave such good performances. Patrick Wilson’s was one of those performances who really helped make the movie good. The thing that I like about these type of movies is they don’t put loud jump scares in there every two seconds to make you jump in surprise. I don’t find that scary. Genuine suspense is scary and “Insidious: Chapter 2” definitely had that. Another thing that I find impressive is that it is a horror sequel that is actually good.

— Brittany Wygladalski, Sugar Hill