Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

Insidious Chapter 2: The Sequel That Proves the Original’s Ending Makes Sense

Posted by CinemaPsycho on September 15, 2013

Insidious_Chapter_2_Trailer_Quad_1_6_4_13.jpgSo, now that Insidious: Chapter 2 has come out and basically proved that my so-called “theory” about the original’s ending making perfect sense was accurate, do I intend to gloat? Nah, of course not. I’m a little bit more mature than that. I will say that if you were paying attention at all, it should have been perfectly clear. I don’t intend to explain the ending of the first film all over again, so go back and re-read that original post if you must (you can find it under May 2011). Given that the entirety of Chapter 2 hinges on that ending, well, it’s pretty clear what the filmmakers’ intentions were. I don’t claim any special insight – I was simply paying attention to the movie. It’s only a “twist ending” until you think about it for a minute.

While it didn’t freak me out the way the original movie did, I liked Chapter 2 quite a bit. Unlike a lot of sequels, which are content to simply regurgitate the original film’s contents over and over again, this sequel feels like the logical next step. It picks up where the ending of the first left off, and answers the simple question what would happen next? Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell are obviously aware that there is a built-in audience for this sequel, so they have allowed themselves to get as weird and wacky as possible within the framework of the possession plot. There are flashbacks to Josh’s childhood in 1986 (again, because he was the target all along), dream sequences, and of course trips of The Further, and some of it approaches David Lynch in style (without quite reaching his typical obliqueness). The wild climax cuts back and forth between the “real world” and the “Further World” without managing to lose us completely. There are several nice touches, including the casting of House of the Devil’s Jocelin Donahue as the young Barbara Hershey (which seems somehow dead-on perfect), some great comic relief moments with the two paranormal researchers (one of whom is played by Whannell), plus a couple of choice horror movie references (keep your eyes on those TV screens). Chapter 2 makes a great companion piece to the original Insidious, and I’d actually like to watch the two films back to back sometime.

Sadly, I wasn’t as big a fan of Wan’s The Conjuring, though everyone else on the planet seems to have fallen for its hokum. It’s not a horribly bad film, but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth, like I’d just had it washed out with soap by a particularly angry nun. I did like the 70’s atmosphere, but I found the whole thing rather silly frankly, and even the teenage girls in the audience didn’t seem particularly freaked out. “There’s something behind the door!” “No, there isn’t!” Really? Come on. Pulling someone’s foot as they sleep isn’t my idea of scary. Apparently I’m in the minority on that.

Apparently it also doesn’t seem to bother anybody else that the film was sold as a “true story” that isn’t the least bit true. Look it up. None of it really happened. Never mind that the film was meant to scare us based on its sense of reality and authenticity – “this actually happened – and it could happen to you!” That’s the line the film is selling. But a simple Google search will tell you otherwise. The Warrens are scam artists, not the demon-busters the movie portrays them as. And everyone’s buying it, including the filmmakers. Fine, whatever. Believe in nonsense if you want to. But I paid to see a horror movie, and that’s not what I got. Does anyone remember those little animated digests churches used to leave in random places that warned people to behave themselves or they would “Burn in the Everlasting Fires of Hell”? That’s what The Conjuring reminded me of. And that’s not what horror movies are meant to be. Hey, if people want to make Christian propaganda, that’s fine with me. I have no problem with that. Just call it what it is so I don’t have to sit through it. If I want to be preached to, I’ll go to Sunday school, not a movie theater. Again, that’s not the movie I paid to see. Horror films should challenge our preconceptions of the world, not reinforce them. Look, The Exorcist is one of my favorite movies, but even that film doesn’t preach to you (clumsily) and admonish you for being human and capable of rational thought. It simply tells a story and lets you believe what you want to believe. The Conjuring raps you on the knuckles with a ruler for not believing what it believes. Too bad for them that I don’t have to pay to see the sequels.

Strangely enough, my favorite horror film of the year seems to be the least popular – Adam Wingard’s You’re Next. Lionsgate gave this indie “mumblecore” film a wide release, but only after keeping it on the shelf for 2 years and letting all the buzz it had built up slip away. Then they put out vague ads that told people nothing about what it was actually about, and somehow expected a mass audience to show up. Yeah, they dropped the ball big time. But at least the film is out there, and it’s a blast of nasty, twisted, violent fun. In other words, it’s a horror movie. Remember them? Yeah, I don’t even want to tell you anything about the plot, the characters, any of that. I don’t want to spoil anything. Just trust me. If you’re a horror fan, and you miss the days when an R rating meant something, just go. While you still can. I have a feeling we’re not going to see a film like this in theaters (at least not in wide release) for quite some time. There are practically no horror films coming out in October in wide release (except the Carrie remake), which astounds me. So if you want it, you have to go now.

That about covers it from here. Talk to you guys later. And as always, thanks for reading.

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