Coming off as a mix of Paranormal Activity and Poltergeist, Insidious is a solid horror film jam packed with jump scares that starts out strong but flutters out as it goes on.
The film stars Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as married couple with 3 kids, Josh and Renai Lambert, who move into a house where strange occurrences begin to happen around the house. Their son, Dalton, one day doesn't awaken from his sleep and goes into a coma like state which doctors can't seem to explain. After their other son, Foster, says he doesn't like it when Dalton walks around at night and Renai gets attacked, they move to another house. When the events continue to happen
Within the first few seconds of the film, it is evident that the atmosphere is captured perfect with an in your face look around a dark house. Right after these few seconds comes a horrible title screen that will make your ears bleed if heard in the right theatre. Insidious is inscribed into a brown background with blood red font and such a screech you wonder what the director was thinking.
It is as if the producers hired Yo Yo Ma to come and try to play some cello over the beginning but ended up with Yo Ma and he never seen a cello in his life. Either that is the explanation or the composer was picking his teeth with his instrument and they thought it sounded so brilliant it needed to be in the opening.
Music aside, the real reason everyone is here is for the horror which comes really strong. Near the halfway point though, it does get annoying with all the jump scares and instead of nervous laughter, you're more inclined to laugh it not scaring you. While the horror element is fairly strong within the film, so is the drama, as it with lends a much needed gravity to everything so we care about the characters and not root for them to be killed off like most horror archetypes these days (cough, Skyline, cough). Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne do a fantastic job.
The film also ends on a cliffhanger and to be honest it's not bad. If there wasn't a sequel or where if this didn't make enough money it would have still been a lot of fun to speculate on everything after the credits.
Overall though, the first Insidious is great and definitely deserves a watch if you're one of the few that haven't seen it. It may wear its homages on its sleeves but it wants film buffs to know it appreciates old school horror while trying to make a name of it's own.
Now Insidious: Chapter 2 does contain spoilers since it continues immediately after the first film. If you haven't seen it, then go watch it then come back and read the review or not, your call.
Insidious 2: Electric Boogaloo begin with Josh as a child and him with his astral projections with his mother trying to figure out exactly what is wrong much like the first film. With Josh talking to someone and opening a door. After this, the bloody screech of an opening comes on and we get back to exactly where the first film left off where someone took over Josh's body, leaving the real Josh in The Further. We as an audience know it's not the real Josh but the characters don't and feel as if something is off.
Here is where the story splits up into two different ways. With Josh's body, we see whoever inhabited it try to adjust to normality and the family wondering why he seems off. In the other story, Josh's mom, Lorraine, meets up with Specs, Tucker, and Carl, another individual who was with Elise that night with Josh as a child. These four go on a quest to find out who took over Josh's body.
Now both sides of the story are extremely well paced and as last time well acted. Specs and Tucker provide some much needed laughs that ease the mood, but don't break it. Barbara Hershey takes on a bit more screen time and does it well. And for Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson, they again pull off great performance, better than the first.
With this film, when the stories split up, it doesn't hinder it all and helps the story as the mystery the four uncover in a Law and Order type will keep you second guessing while in the house with the Lambert's, we get the tension of not knowing what Josh will do next and possibly go into some Jack Torrance-esqe spree. Evenly paced and scares now not as forefront and in your face while building tension, this is everything the first should have been.
As with everything, there are flaws, through the praises of the story it does end on another cliffhanger. Not as huge as the last part, but still you want to know what happens next. It's not that there is anything wrong with it, it's just it feels like since Marvel wanted to do The Avengers franchise, now every franchise must put a cliffhanger in everything just to get people to see the next one.
Also, this is a bit spoilerish but there is time travel somehow within the film, when you see and in the context of the story it makes sense and yet none at the same time. It just is never explained by any means why this is happening and just asks you to accept it and go along with it, because you know, ghosts.
With that though, Insidious: Chapter 2 is a film that greatly expands on the original, providing plenty more scares and much more tension all while building up a story that sets up its own mythology even more. If you like a film that is told like a Law and Order episode with plenty of jump scares, then go get this movie now and have a fun evening.