Insidious: Chapter 2 – Don’t go and see this with your Dad!

insidious_2

4 hours later… we arrive in Leeds.

3 hours later… we arrive at the cinema.

This weekend, my Dad kindly drove me all the way to Leeds from my girlfriend’s house in London. It was a long drive, and one that we celebrated by going to relax in front of a big screen. However it was not so relaxing for my Dad, who was up in his chair and sweating the whole way through. My Dad just doesn’t go to the movies, in fact, he told me he couldn’t remember the last time he saw a movie (we concluded perhaps it was The Lion King). It was literally like going to the movies with a Viking, he wore a baggy, shaggy coat, torn jeans and flip-flops – classy, right?

Once we’d purchased the tickets, Dad dumbfounded by the price, we headed to the ice cream counter. I imagine it was like your 6-year-old son spotting an ice cream van along the beach. He ordered a large, entirely mint choc chip flavored ice cream – let’s just say we were helping him out by the time the ads started.

Dad seemed a little on edge about watching a horror film. Especially once he had gasped at the size of the screen and heard the “incredible” quality speakers, which he was quick to discover, trigger his ludicrous reaction to fright. I asked him what the last horror movie he saw was; he replied, “I think it was Motel Horror.” A slasher parody evolving around cannibalism, that is definitely not exposure to the contemporary exhaustion of paranormal horror. ‘Video nasties’ (as they were coined) weren’t exactly scary cinema, just gruesome. I said to Dad, “This will probably make you jump but have a rubbish storyline.” He said nothing, his eyes simply transfixed on the screen as ads ran. In fact, I don’t even think he heard me the sound was so pleasant on his ears.

It’s approximately 15 minutes into the film, the first big fright. Dad is perched forward, leaning upon his knee; he is totally transfixed by the cinema. Suddenly, he launches backward into the seat in fright, afterwards he laughs and turns to me panting. “Wow that was a good one!”

“Ha-ha yeah,” I reply, trying to focus my attention back to the movie.

“I’m not sure what’s happening, is that lady the same as the one in the house?”

“Eh? Dad shut up, you can’t talk in the cinema.”

“It’s just a bit confusing that’s all.”

I ignored whatever else he said. Though, I felt like shouting: “It will make sense, we’re only 20 minutes in for Christ sake!”

However, to be fair, the movie was a bit all over the place, but did manage to pick up the pieces by the end.

The chatter didn’t stop. You know those annoying people who continually ask questions throughout (as the director has placed them their)? Dad is the groundbreaker of this group. At one point he commented, “Just take the batteries out!” This comment refers to when the baby’s toy kept going off by itself in a ghostlike fashion. Dad clearly doesn’t understand genre conventions; it was evident throughout that he simply couldn’t accept how horror movies are made. The typical “Why would you go in there?” was uttered a fair few times. Although I ultimately agree with my Dad, you just have to accept that a paranormal horror film wouldn’t really work without arrogant individuals upholding abundant idiocy.

At the end of the day Dad enjoyed the experience, but on the way out he alleged “well that’s me sorted for another 10 years.” I now make it my duty to drag him to the cinema whenever I see him. Insidious: Chapter 3 – where are you?

Now, on with the actual movie review for this extended blog post. I did enjoy Insidious: Chapter 2, which is saying something considering the constant pestering from my Dad! However, I went in with negligible expectations, Insidious was okay, but just as Paranormal Activity 2, The Grudge 2 and The Ring 2 affronted the first, I struggled to see how this one could differ. Frankly, horror sequels just stink from as far back as Exorcist II: The Heretic and Jaws: The Revenge. However, at least James Wan (director) and Leigh Whannell (screenwriter) stayed on together with the project, and it shows. I feel the script was actually significantly better than Insidious and, what’s more, it actually had some principal relativity to it – perhaps this is why my Dad was asking questions the whole way through? This is not the case however; the story is perfectly understandable for a fresh pair of eyes, or brain rather – a viewer just needs patience. Apart from a few minor disjoints in the narrative, and maybe a few belated plot revelations, the script isn’t going to get a whole lot better for the movie it is trying to be: a fabricated invasion of evil and elucidation on the course between life and death.

It’s worth noting that with Insidious: Chapter 2, Wan and Whannell have moments of variability submerged into a sub-genre of comedy. Here, comedy is not created through fear, to make us laugh (as would be apparent in Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead) but rather through character. These comedic characters are the two young male ‘spirit hunters’ whose humor occurs through sheer foolishness, and what could almost be considered slapstick. It doesn’t work. The whole movie almost becomes one big joke through these characters. They are meant to be the experts proving spirits are real, but who would believe anything these two idiots say?

The argument put forward by Mark Kermode is that these horror movies are made for people who don’t like real horror. They can’t be horror fans as they are content with watching something that goes “Quiet, quiet, quiet… BANG!” (Quoted from Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews podcast). This is exactly what the movie does, throughout. It is insufferable cinema, ‘cattleprod’ cinema, as the term coined by Nigel Floyd goes. This refers to the audience’s reaction being comparable to getting prodded every so often. It’s the generic horror tropes that stir this reaction: creepy children, rocking horses, hospital corridors etc. These rip off aesthetics are what keeps the cycle of ‘cattleprod’ rotating. It seems the phrase ‘less is more’ could be used to advantageous affect on the current state of contemporary horror.

Ultimately, the movie was forbidding enough to make you tense and jolt in your seat (even when the ridiculous title animation slams boldly onto the screen to ghastly screaming sound effects), but not engaging enough to keep my mind from drifting off to wondering when these preposterous films will stop getting made and why our society is so blindly infatuated over them. It’s simply a film to ‘prod’, enclosed by a genial theme with illusory characters. It unquestionably isn’t a human movie to care about.

My Rating:

Entertainment – 3/5

Intellect – 1/5

Craft – 3/5

Originality – 1/5

Score – 8/20

2 stars for Insidious: Chapter 2

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