If you’ve not yet got around to seeing “Insidious: Chapter 2” you should do so. James Wan has become our premier horror film director with spooky offerings that work with artful photography and atmosphere and engaging supernatural stories rather than splattered gore and a heavy reliance on special effects. He re-teams with writer Leigh Whannell (who also plays paranormal investigator Specs) and producer Oren Peli (the man behind “Paranormal Activity”) to continue the tale of nasty spirits from a realm known as The Further in this sequel to their 2010 hit.
The pre-title scene takes us back 24 years before the first film when evil spirits first plagued Josh as a boy (Garrett Ryan). That’s when his young mother Lorraine (Jocelin Donahue) first enlisted the young medium Elise (Lindsay Seim) to wipe away Josh’s memory of the events. It fleshes out the story a bit and helps establish this sequel as a stand-alone movie for anyone unfamiliar with the first film. It then picks up right where the original left off with Josh and Renai (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) moving the family into Lorraine’s (Barbara Hershey) house. But changing residences does not free them from their unfortunate connection to the spirit world.
Lorraine and paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker (Angus Sampson) have larger roles this time around. Joined by an old associate of Elise’s named Carl (Steve Coulter), part of the movie plays like an intense episode of cable TV’s “Ghost Adventures” as they uncover some ugly secrets. Specs and Tucker add some unexpected humor and past and present events merge and factor into scenes from the previous film all to the enhancement of the goings on.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” is a bit slow to get going, more creepily entertaining than outright scary and pales in comparison to Wan’s brilliant summer release “The Conjuring.” Still it will make you jump two or three times, keep you engaged, and satisfy your ghost story cravings. It’s a solid early Halloween spooky treat.