Premise: I can’t quite remember where Insidious 1 left off, because I haven’t seen it since it was in theaters, but Insidious 2: Insidious Harder picks up right where it left off. Apparently Patrick Wilson is still possessed, and he’s being a real jerk to his family. But then there’s like a new ghost, right? Some dude ghost. I guess he’s haunting them now? Did they get rid of the ghost from the first one? Are they working together? HUH? Oh great, now I have to look up the dictionary definition of the word “insidious” again.
-Director James Wan continues to impress me with brilliant visuals and cinematography in a genre that doesn’t normally put forth the greatest effort in that regard. I wasn’t really planning on seeing Insidious 2: Back 2 tha Hood until I saw Wan’s other release this year, The Conjuring, and it kind of got me excited to see anything he was up to. I mean this guy uses dolly and crane shots, and has moving camera shots when he doesn’t even need to! It’s like he actually cares about what his horror movies look like! Wan has kind of sold me so much on his visual storytelling that I’m actually excited to see what he does with Fas7 and the Fu7ious 7. That, and they are bringing back the main character from Tokyo Drift. THE BEST IN THE SERIES. (just don’t bring back Lil Bow Wow’s character; he’s the anti ticket sale)
-This movie had the hair stand up on my arms and legs not once, not twice, but THRICE. Wan is pretty good at constructing some suspenseful scares. I guess they’d qualify as jump scares? But they have some pretty sweet set-ups, so I’d prefer the fancier phrasing of calling them “well constructed terror.” AND I pretty much didn’t see any marketing materials for Insidious 2: Cruise Control, so none of the suspenseful moments were completely given away beforehand, like the clapping scene from The Conjuring, which is shown in its entirety in the trailers.
-There are lots of homages to other horror films, from The Shining to Psycho to The Devil’s Backbone. It’s a mystery film wrapped in a horror movie coating, and a lot of the film’s charm comes not from bloody torture scenes, because there are none, but rather from atmosphere and a sense of intrigue. Again, it’s pretty funny that the director of the original Saw movie continues to be one of the only horror directors in Hollywood NOT trying to make Saw ripoffs.
-On the note of homages, Patrick Wilson does a great Jack Torrence impression throughout the movie. Seemed like he was having a pretty good time.
-Barbara Hershey is looking pretty good for 70 or whatever she is. Old ladies are supposed to look withered and wrinkly! Upon what fountain of youth is she drinking upon?? It’s Dr. Pepper Ten isn’t it…? I knew I should be drinking that more…
-Love those title graphics.
-The plot is undeniably confusing. I’m not sure if it made no sense, or it just went way over my head. Again, it didn’t help that I didn’t remember the first movie all that well, but wasn’t this a new ghost? I mean, what happened to that Darth Maul looking red ghost from the first one? That’s a different ghost. I think? Wasn’t the first movie about a woman in a black dress or something? Why do I feel like there’s some continuity link I’m missing? I guess Patrick Wilson’s character can just communicate to ALL ghosts? Even throwing that aside, the third act had me often saying “wait, what?” about the individual plot of the second film, while still somehow keeping me oddly entertained.
-Is it James Wan’s intent to try to make America scared of closets? I think that’s three movies in a row where ghosts are hiding behind clothes on hangers. I NEED TO PICK MY T-SHIRT OUT, STOP GIVING ME THE FEAR TO DO SO.
-I can’t look at Lin Shaye and NOT see the landlady from Kingpin.
-It gets better as it goes along, but that does mean that the first chunk of the film is the worst part, and frankly, it’s not all that great. Insidious works best at its craziest.
Final Thoughts: Even if I wasn’t 100% on top of what was going on in A Good Day to Insidious Hard, I was extremely entertained throughout. It’s a big step up from the first Insidious’ tactics of just showing crazy shit happening nonsensically for two second bursts, because why bother constructing scares? Oh wait, when you build tension, it tends to help induce more fright? Who would have thought? Anyway, I liked A Very Insidious Sequel (and The Conjuring) much more than the first Insidious, because it just felt like a much better put-together film. James Wan is a guy to look out for in the future. I’m excited to see what he’s going to be up to 10 years from now, when he’s not obliged to make horror films or Fast and Furious movies, and he constructs a crime drama or a brooding character study. I think he’s a guy who maybe doesn’t have the greatest overall vision quite yet, but he makes a lot of great individual choices within his films. That’s halfway there, right?
7.5 out of 10