Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ten Statements About....INSIDIOUS CHAPTER TWO (2013)

Don’t look now, Barbara Hershey! Don’t look!
“It’s been so long since I felt pain. I forgot how much I enjoyed the sensation. Not as much as I enjoyed inflicting it."

1) This, ladies and gentlemen, is a well-made script for a sequel. It builds on the original, doesn’t contradict it, gives some secondary characters room to shine, and even clarifies some of the hazier concepts from the first film. It works seamlessly as a ‘true’ second chapter to the story and not another adventure hastily tacked on to pull more money out of fans of the first film.

2) Patrick Wilson is really having fun with his part in this. The script by James Wan and Leigh Whammel gives Wilson an opportunity to play the kind of part I don’t think he’s ever had the chance to assay before, and boy does Patrick dig in!

3) I am somewhat surprised at how much time Barbara Hershey gets in this part of the story, given how she was almost incidental to the first film. But then, Wan and Whammel’s creation of that second layer to the story justifies her taking the position as major player. Hell, she’s practically the female lead, which works because...

This is the extent of Rose Byrne's contribution to this film.
4) As much as I love Rose Byrne, her Renai is a bit, well, drippy in this one. There are long stretches where she’s there only to be The Girl School Screamer to be menaced by the evil entity of the piece (which, come to think of it, makes her the inversion of Barbara Hershey’s character in The Entity, which was nowhere near as good as this film). When she finally takes up a pot in the final act to try and brain the bad ghoul, I only thought ‘what took you so long?’

5) Whoever Lindsay Seim is, she’s made the list of Actresses I Need To Watch. In her small turn as the younger version of Lin Shaye’s Elise at the beginning of the film, she does an uncanny approximation of Shaye. I knew exactly who she was the showed up on screen, and she creates a strong continuity between these past scenes and the present ones.

6) Here’s something Wan does that he should teach Producer Oren Peli. Wan manages to incorporate some ‘found footage’ sequences that enhance the film without drawing us out of it. The moments, like when Leigh Whammel’s Specs and Angus Sampson’s Tucker investigate Elise’s Reading Room, are integrated subtlely and add to the atmosphere Wan is trying to achieve.

7) There is an attempt to create a method of reaching the spirits for Steve Coulter’s Carl that is effective, but it doesn’t have the retro-creepiness of Elise’ bizarre gas mask apparatus from the first film.

Boo! I's a ghost! A ghooooost!
8) I love how Wan and Whammel’s script ties up all the loose ends from both this and the original, although I am of two minds as to how effective it is when Shaye’s Elise at one point literally faces the camera and mutters, ‘so that’s what that was all about.’

9) I rather like how Wan has enough faith in us as an audience that he allows some of the apparition appearances to come without fanfare, never drawing attention to itself. Some of the creepiest moments have one of the two ghosts just cross across the background while the actors in the foreground, giving us just enough to doubt what we saw.

10) I like the ultimate evil entity that is the cause of all the trouble, although the mythology behind it may be the one weakness of the plot. If this entity, when it was on earth, was notorious enough to get itself a nickname...why didn’t anyone discover the room with the bodies of its victims until Hershey and company stumbled across it.

Overall...a really, really good follow up to Wan’s really, really good original. Fans will not be disappointed by it, and the way it ties up the Lambert family’s story while opening the door for new stories in this mythology is very satisfying.

I saw this at the Loews Village 7, taking advantage of AMC’s $7.50 matinee-before-noon policy. The trailer package was almost identical to the one I saw when I saw The World’s End save for the extended trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug that made me sad that Peter Jackson is overextending that sliver of a book in the name of branding rather than, you know, doing films that are important to him, and Pompeii, which apparently seeks to Zack Snyder-ize that volcanic disaster. And I still don’t get the appeal of the Ron Burgundy character. At all.

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