Film Review: Insidious: Chapter 2

Insidious: Chapter 2

Sequel Insidious: Chapter 2 has some jumps and some good laughs, but ultimately is inferior to its predecessor due to the lack of sustained suspense.

Following the supernatural events that endangered their children, Josh and Renai Lambert’s connection to the spirit world remains unbroken. A childhood secret may hold the key to removing the nefarious spirits from their family…

Insidious: Chapter 2 carries on from the events of the first film, with some sequences which go back into the past. Through the course of the film it is two parallel narratives that run, although they intertwine at times.

The film replays some of the events of Insidious, filling in the gaps. This works well for the most part, although the film is not as clever as it thinks it is.

The main problem with Insidious: Chapter 2 is that the apprehension that was so successfully generated for much of the first film is missing here. There are jumps certainly, but the film is devoid of the building tension and atmosphere which made the original so memorable.

The comedy in Insidious: Chapter 2 does work, and indeed is more frequent than in its predecessor. This certainly offers an element of relief from the film’s scarier moments. The new characters brought into this instalment are a good fit.

The imagery and objects of fear build on what is featured in the original film. Some of the articles used to generate fear are those depicted time and again in the horror genre. As such, some devices can be spotted a mile off.

Performances in Insidious: Chapter 2 are in keeping with the tone of the film. Patrick Wilson injects an aura of campery which fits the more humorous side of the film.

Insidious: Chapter 2 is disappointing compared to its predecessor, but is by no means a terrible film in its own right. However there is no need for a third film.

Film Review: The Conjuring

The Conjuring

The Conjuring is an atmospheric horror that successfully combines the visceral with the psychological.

In 1971, Carolyn and Roger Parren move into a Rhode Island farmhouse with their daughters. When strange events begin to occur in the house, Carolyn contacts noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to remove the dark presence…

The latest offering from James Wan, helmer of Saw and Insidious, combines elements of the haunted house film with that of an exorcism flick. This works for the most part, with the detective aspects being employed for expositional purposes.

The Conjuring builds tension in an effective manner. There are well-placed jumpy moments. These are executed with some restraint, rather than being an onslaught.

References to other horror movies begins with The Conjuring‘s opening titles. The film’s title on screen immediately evokes The Exorcist. This is not the only allusion to the 1973 film. Other horror films are also referenced in Wan’s film.

The only real let down is that too much is overstated in The Conjuring. Th film attempts to drop some red herrings but these fall like clangers rather than hints. The result is that the end game is rather predictable. This is only the case as The Conjuring adopts the tried and tested methods of horror films past.

Wan’s direction is solid. There are several nice transitional and tracking shots employed in the film. The sound is an effective tool in generating tension. For the most part, the film looks of the era it is set.

It is a nice touch that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are cast as the experienced investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, given that both actors could be considered veterans of the genre. Elsewhere, performances are decent.

There is enough in the film to give both the immediate jumps and disquieting feelings that should stay with viewers. The Conjuring is not perfect, but it is a very entertaining horror.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of audio-visual treats for your senses this week, with Iron Man 3, Spring Breakers, The Conjuring and more…

Iron Man 3

Cue the dramatic music! It’s all going down in the new Iron Man 3 trailer. Tony Stark faces a new and dangerous enemy! Pepper Potts is in danger! There is an army of Iron Men! Iron Man 3 is out in UK cinemas on 25th April 2013.

Spring Breakers

I can’t wait for Spring Breakers! James Franco as a gangster; what more do you want? Also starring a host of teen stars, Spring Breakers is directed by Harmony Korine. The film is released in the UK on 5th April 2013.

The Conjuring

Based on a true story, apparently, The Conjuring is the new horror from James Wan, director of Saw and Insidious. It is not clear what is in the house, but why is it clapping?! The Conjuring is released in UK cinemas on 19th July 2013.

Monsters University

Monsters University

Look at this wonderful poster! It is so colourful and fun. I am not sure what that orange pig-type creature is at the front, but I like it. Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters Inc., opens in UK cinemas on 12th July 2013.

Snitch

Dwayne Johnson stars in action thriller Snitch. The plot seems a bit implausible, but apparently the film was inspired by true events. Snitch is due for release in April 2013.

Film Review: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

With the intention of increasing night light sales, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark offers the traits of a vintage horror. In terms of creepiness, the film is pretty effective.

Sally is a young girl who is sent to live with her father and his partner in New England. Architect Alex and interior designer Kim intend to renovate the house they are working on. The property gives Sally ample opportunity to explore. However, it appears that Sally is not alone when she hears voices calling her name…

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is effective on a creepy level, rather than being all out terrifying. There are some jumpy moments in Troy Nixey’s film, but less so than a film such as Insidious. Instead, Don’t Be Afraid takes a different tact, opting for a more subtle, unsettled feel.

Loosely based on the 1973 television movie of the same name, Don’t Be Afraid features a screenplay by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins. The film treads a rather familiar narrative path; featuring a child who sees supernatural things while the adults think it is all in her mind. Nevertheless, the film does not head entirely in the direction one may think; there are a few small surprises.

Much of the film is concerned with Sally; the audience is often made to identify with her with the choice of camera angles. In this way Don’t Be Afraid is most effective. Viewers should be able to empathise with the fear felt by the little girl, as well as her frustration when no one believes her. The sequences that take place in Sally’s bedroom are particularly persuasive in conveying the childlike terror that the film preys upon.

Despite some scares, Don’t Be Afraid does not tap into childhood fears and anxieties quite as Joe Dante’s The Hole. Dante’s film had a power and effectiveness that is missing from Nixey’s production. However, the special effects in Don’t Be Afraid are excellent, and the location, set and lighting combine well to create an atmospheric film.

Bailee Madison is excellent as Sally. Her performance is integral to the success of the film, and she does a fantastic job. Katie Holmes is also good as Kim. Guy Pearce, meanwhile, does not get to show much range as Alex, which is a shame as he is such a talented actor.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark may disappoint those looking to be petrified, but it works well on a more subtle level.

Film Review: Insidious

People in horror movies never actually seem to watch horror movies themselves. Otherwise, they would know to scarper at the first sign of danger, unlike the protagonists in Insidious.

Josh, Renai and their three children move into a new home. Before they have finished unpacking, strange things start to occur. When the couple find their oldest son Dalton in an unexplained comatose state, they decide to pack up ad leave. Moving into a new home, the family find that whatever was previously haunting them has followed…

Insidious is a good schlock horror that provides a decent amount of frights for those who buy into it. Some elements are unsurprisingly silly; seemingly a prerequisite of the modern horror film. Nevertheless, Insidious is an effective possession movie overall.

Much is made in the film’s publicity of the fact that the makers of Saw and Paranormal Activity are at the helm. Creator of Saw James Wan directs and Leigh Whannell writes, while Paranormal Activity creator Oren Peli is one of the film’s producers. Given the success of these two recent franchises, it is easy to see why they have been played up in the advertising for the film. Although it is most comparable to Paranormal Activity of the two, thankfully Insidious is its own movie. The film does not draw too heavily on previous haunting films, despite the inevitable comparisons to The Haunting in Connecticut and The Amityville Horror among others.

One of the best things about Insidious is that the film injects a healthy dose of humour into proceedings. The appearance of Specs and Tucker lighten the atmosphere at the right time. They relieve some of the tension and sombreness that had hitherto been building. Whilst Insidious is unlikely to rank alongside cult classic Evil Dead II with this mix of horror and comedy, this aspect does distinguish the film from being just another generic possession movie.

Certain scenes in the film evoke Ridley Scott’s Legend, with their polemical imagery and use of colour. The booming score is pivotal in enhancing the sense of apprehension. The use of a recurring vintage tune is reminiscent of the Halloween series and Jeepers Creepers in giving an innocuous song a more menacing turn. Effects are good, although there is one particular use of CGI that cheapens the look of the film.

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are aptly cast as protagonists Josh and Renai. Ty Simpkins is believable as young Dalton, while Barbara Hershey is underused as Lorraine.

With its nods to numerous horror films, Insidious is a well-crafted movie that effectively delivers the scares. It’s not The Haunting, but should prove to be popular amongst horror aficionados.