Insidious: Chapter 2 review

The Lambert family are back, again encumbered with ghosties and freaks. Poor Renai (Byrne) is at her wits' end. Why is husband Josh (Wilson) behaving so strangely? Why does a badly played song give her the willies? Thankfully, their son is now out of a coma but their trusty medium Elise (Shaye) has died. How? Renai's dependable mother (Hershey) is on hand to help however, as well as those two dolts Specks (Whannell) and Tucker (Simpson). But it's veteran ghost hunter Carl (Coulter ) who is really useful in aiding them. He first tried to deal with troubled Josh 28 years ago. Now a figure from Josh's youth has come into the frame and started causing ructions. What a dilemma.

Chapter 2 is actually more tolerable than the tedious first entry in this horror canon. You either buy the premise or you don't. If you're a naysayer then the supernatural goings on between the real worlds and the spirit worlds will leave you unpersuaded. What incomprehensible tosh will be your reaction. But if you're willing to go with it then this hokum might be more palatable. It takes a fair while to get going and remains resolutely unscary – the sudden jolts don't make you jump and you certainly won't be squirming in your seat with fright. Director Wan though is a canny craftsman when cutting between the two worlds and the tale picks up speed in the second half. It's generic fare but watchable enough, and the cast all perform with the utmost conviction, bless 'em.

A couple of months ago, Wilson starred in the same director's The Conjuring. That was a super horror opus – absorbing, skilfull, satisfying and very very scary. Insidious: Chapter 2 shares none of those traits but it's not a disaster. Despite its cliched attempts to fright, it's still effective in a minor key. Go along with low expectations and you won't be wholly disappointed.

Insidious: Chapter 2 at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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