Directed By: James Wan
“In my line of work things tend to happen when it gets dark.”
Another day, another film by James Wan. This kid could go far.
After seeing the first film yesterday it seemed apt to catch the sequel while it was still showing. But first of all a brief digression: I was in the cinema alone and had the brief thought of how high would I jump if I suddenly heard someone whisper in my ear. The other thing was after about five minutes another man came into the showing and proceeding to answer any questions the characters were asking. For example:
Person on Screen: “What’s wrong? Are you alright?”
Man in Front: “No”
Thank you for that.
But enough about that. Impressively this marks Wan’s second film of the year and in such a short space of time (It wasn’t that long ago that The Conjuring was released). I’m not sure how he can keep churning these things out but I’m not going to complain (He has also confirmed he’s done with horror now, having landed the gig on directing the next Fast and Furious film).
Aside from an introduction that takes us back to the 80’s, this film picks up right where what I guess we’d call Chapter 1 left off as the characters deal with the fallout from the events of the original film. It’s been three years since that one came out, so there’s a brief recap covered through some expositional dialogue but that’s it. I can’t imagine watching this without having seen the original, particularly once we get to the last act, but Wan at least meets you halfway with the quick “Here’s what you need to know” scene.
All the characters from the first film return. Yes, all of them. And while Rose Byrne is essentially stranded in her role (And is briefly terrorised by a baby’s mobile – Man in Front advised that she should take the batteries out of it), Americas favourite emasculated male – Patrick Wilson – gets to dial it up to eleven, and then a little past that. He’s the primary focus this time, while in another plot thread his Mother (Played by The Entity‘s Barbara Hershey) gets involved, not in that way, with two of the returning investigators from the original to find out who is haunting her family. I like the idea of these two occasionally bumbling investigators getting in a peripheral manner, like the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the Insidious saga and I hope they continue for the inevitable Chapter 3.
What’s so joyful about this film is that Wan and returning writer Leigh Whannell are going for broke. I mean this in the nicest way, but I thought of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 a few times. Not that the two films have anything to do with each other, but you could never call them lazy sequels. This isn’t a case of taking the first film and just copying it. Wan and Whannell just like to throw in idea after idea and just see what works. Not all of it is entirely successful. But for every dud there’s an extended homage to The Shining and, in a sequence that had me grinning, Back To The Future 2. For people who weren’t fans of the last act of the first film, I imagine this will largely fall flat, but if you liked the amped up craziness of it like I did then you’re guaranteed to have a good time with this one. If you wanted the slower, more methodical, chills then seek out The Conjuring. If you’re just looking for a huge slice of insanity with the occasional jump then you can’t go wrong with this entry.
I think the Man in Front liked it too.