After an interesting, and spooky, prologue, Insidious: Chapter 2 gets straight down to business by continuing on from the events at the end of the first movie. Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) have their son back, after rescuing him from supernatural entities, and everyone hopes that things will get back to normal. But that's just not going to happen. There's a murder to be investigated, and there are also some strange things still happening to the family. Renai is at the end of her rope, Josh doesn't want to believe that anything else will try to harm them, and granny Lambert (Lorraine, played by Barbara Hershey) eventually pieces enough together to re-enlist the paranormal investigators, Specs (Leigh Wannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson).
James Wan returns to direct, and Wannell once again multi-tasks as he acts onscreen after completing his duty as the writer of the screenplay. The two work well together, creating horrors that mix atmospheric moments with jump scares and unnerving imagery. Still, if you didn't like the first movie then you're not going to like this sequel. It's more of the same, and even reworks a few scenes in a nice wrinkle added to the standard paranormal activity.
The cast do what's asked of them, but the acting on display here isn't really the best that you'll see. Mind you, it's pretty good stuff compared to what viewers CAN be made to endure within the horror genre. Wilson has some fun, Byrne does well while not being allowed to relax for a minute (spending the entire movie with frayed nerves, bless her), and Hershey is good enough to help make the weaker moments work. Wannell and Sampson will annoy everyone who was annoyed by them the first time around, but I enjoyed the comic relief that they provided. Lin Shaye gets to return, playing Elise Rainier, albeit a changed version of her. Although she's not onscreen for that long, her character is shown to be, arguably, the most important one caught up in the whole situation. Steve Coulter is a new addition to the team, playing another paranormal investigator named Carl, and he does well with his role, particularly in a tense scene that sees him challenged over his method of divining results.
Perhaps not quite good, or intense, enough for more experienced horror fans, the Insidious movies definitely contain enough thrills and chills to scare plenty of money out of mainstream audiences. While I can see flaws in both movies, I must admit that I'm happier to see a film like this succeed than yet another remake of some '80s movie that someone erroneously thinks needs a big dollop of CGI to improve it. There are some big plot points here that will either please or turn off viewers, but you have to give the film-makers some credit for trying to twist the material into something a bit more interesting and unique. Okay, you don't HAVE to give them credit. But I do.