"Insidious: Chapter 2" isn't so much a sequel to its predecessor as it is a ghastly extension that tunnels deep into itself, revealing elements of the first movie from different perspectives to earn points in audience recognition. The joy in watching it is in its unabashed love of itself and its own elaborate world, which is more a montage of the malevolent than a cohesive story.
Thus, you have seen this kind of movie before, but never wrought with such technical proficiency, the way it frames the supernatural for maximum scares even if you always know when the scares are coming. The film has the feel of a roller coaster, with swooping camera movements that endlessly stop and start, reflecting the nature of the scares themselves, making for an immersive experience lacking in emotional resonance.
Just like the first movie, "Chapter 2" is about the haunted Lambert family instead of a haunted house, though director James Wan can't resist indulging in the horror traditions of doors slamming and ominous establishing shots of the Lambert-family home.
Danielle Bisutti is pictured in this still from “Insidous:?Chapter 2,”?the second movie following the haunted Lambert family.
In "Chapter 2," the Lamberts deal with the same type of supernatural entity that plagued them the first time: a malignant force from The Further, a hazy spirit realm that doesn't abide by the laws of time and space, wants to embody a member of the Lambert family to deal death in the physical world. The only way to exorcise the demon is to confront it on its own turf.
Last time, Josh Lambert (a sensational Patrick Wilson) entered The Further to rescue his son, Dalton, from a demon-induced coma. This time, it's sort of the other way around, but with a new plot element that allows for more action compared to the overall static aesthetic of part one. Such a change is welcome because it lets Wan show off his considerable skill at building visual momentum in a movie that manipulates its audience more than engages it.
"Insidious: Chapter 2" is a remarkable success but only on the level of genre, favoring style over substance. It has no characterizations and is thematically barren, yet is undeniably the most frightening movie in a long time, even scarier than Wan's "The Conjuring," though that is a better film overall.
"The Conjuring" didn't allow its genre to overshadow its metaphoric content, whereas "Insidious: Chapter 2" relies solely on its scares, scares that would be just as effective out of context, because there is no emotional or thematic continuity holding them together, except for Wan's signature style that somehow manages to emerge despite his endless homage-paying to other horror movies.
In fact, Wan references his own movies in "Chapter 2," either out of hubris or simply because he's mastered all the tropes of the genre. It's not necessarily a bad thing, considering he is the finest and perhaps the busiest director of the macabre working today, but it's nonetheless redundant. His unique talent reveals some of the limitations of horror movies. Should he ever return to the genre, he'll need to reinvent it to stay interesting.