What am I seeing that everybody else isn't? After watching Insidious: Chapter 2 this weekend I went and read some other people's reviews and they were almost all pretty brutal on the movie, and yet I had a grand ol' time with it. Everyone was so brutal they actually made me feel a wee self-conscious with my positive opinion, even.
But you know what, fuck 'em - fuck 'em all! I had a grand ol' time with Insidious: Chapter 2. Things were a little bit wobbly at first (was anyone else completely transfixed by a blob of cover-up on Rose Byrne's face in her first couple of scenes? Add on the horrible fake beards they had both actors playing Carl wearing and I was worried the entire film was going to be toppled by a low-rent make-up department) as they arranged the pieces in order and got us over the hump of why we're even watching a sequel to a movie with a perfect ending (that cop sure did seem to give up his murder investigation right quick!), but as all that jazz fell away and we were left with what we came for - characters walking down dark hallways until somebody slash something comes popping out at them - I was totally enamored.
And it was the most fun I've had with a crowded theater at a horror movie in a long time, too. The audience I saw it with were totally into it - all the chatter fell away as the movie jangled our nerves and pulled us in under its dark spell (I swear to you if one of those blanketed corpses had moved I would have run out of the theater screaming) - and that goes a helluva long way. That's what you go to the movies for, and horror movies specifically can make their own magic of this kind - the communal experience, the jumping and screaming in unison of it. There's nothing better.
And it actually felt like director James Wan righted some of the wrongs from the first movie - somehow he makes The Further work this time as a bizarre parallel space and not just a sound-stage covered in dry ice, and instead of silly posturing doll people the ghosts in this movie are ornate and over-the-top in a good way (although honestly I will gobble up any shout-out to Aunt Martha in Sleepaway Camp, which was most certainly what was happening).
Plus I love Rose Byrne and I instinctively fear for Rose Byrne (she is so teensy!) and so the scenes riffing (generous use of "riffing") on The Shining had me legitimately terrified for her. And what fun Patrick Wilson was having! Sometimes he's too straight man for his own good, so it was a blast watching him get some unexpected meat (slash scenery) to chew. I feel like he must have asked Vera Farmiga for advice on how to be a lunatic, and she gave him the low-down.
Even with its third act problems I still think the first Insidious is one of the best horror movies of the past decade - its inventive camera-work and trope-bending make that movie a heck of a lot of fun to watch - and so when I say this here sequel totally over-shot my expectations (especially after I was so disappointed with Wan's in-between movie The Conjuring) you'd best know that's high praise. And I loved the ways that Leigh Whannell's script sorts its way into the "whys" of the sequel. He answered questions I wasn't even asking with a boisterous "Why the hell not?" and I was totally into it. I'm super happy to read there's a third movie coming thanks to this one's immediate financial success. Bring it on.