‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ (James Wan, 2013)

Picking up immediately where the first film left off, and drawing the story of the central family to a close, this new Insidious movie feels like a fledging horror franchise carving out that brave first step beyond the original to a world of opportunity ahead. Call me a maniac, but I’ve a great affection for the bizarre self-contained mythologies of the best multi-part horror series. When I think of these Insidious films, astral-projection and their foggy soundstage ‘further’, I’m taken back to the whacked out fun of Hellbound: Hellraiser II and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Following The Conjuring – one of the year’s best – director James Wan could be accused of over indulgence, or maybe just a ramped up work ethic that’s enabled him to slam out a quickie Insidious follow-up for his second 2013 release, but I really believe he’s firing on all cylinders here, sucking the scares from Leigh Whannell’s soggy script and grabbing the opportunity to expand his oeuvre into a little body horror to supplement the requisite creaking floorboards and floating furniture. Surely by now, several films into a career, we can officially exalt Wan as the master of the scary wardrobe!

Where Insidious: Chapter 2 may lose fans is with screenwriter Whannell’s obsessive focus on retroactive continuity and nods to the first entry. His three Saw scripts were similarly guilty of jumping around timeframes, however this goes further, playing the Back to the Future II game of using a time travel device to interact with the events of Chapter 1. For me, that’s fine, I love that sort of shit, but for all but the most eagle-eyed genre fan it’s a decadent and irritating departure from the restrained spooks and jumps that defined the first hour of that first film. No longer are the team content to let the simple scares suffice, this is a crazed, silly universe now of beardy psychics, transsexual serial killer witches, and smiley ghosts.

‘Insidious VIII: University demon and the space poltergeist’ (2021). I want it now!!