Back in 1986 at the Lambert house, young Josh was having difficulties at home, not behaviourally but because he felt there was something wrong there. Seeing as how his sleep had been disrupted and there were strange, inexplicable things happening around the place, his mother Lorraine decided to call in a professional: not a professional psychologist, but an expert in the paranormal, yet when Carl began to investigate he opted to bring in a psychic in the shape of Elise Rainier who had a lot of experience in this field. So it was that Josh was sat down in front of a video camera and asked about his fears - leading directly to something uncanny found that night.
Director James Wan had gradually made his name by refreshing old horror movies and the ideas which had made them genre favourites, and the first Insidious movie was no exception, offering a fun jolt of electricity to a collection of scenes drawn from some of the film's most memorable predecessors, particularly those in the field of haunted houses. In the end, it was this mixture of the familiar with a shiny modern gloss which contributed mostly to its success, capitalising on the fact that there was a whole generation who were not as well versed in chiller cinema as Wan and his regular screenwriter Leigh Whannell were so for them this was scrubbing up as good as new, and effective for that.
However, he released two similar haunted house efforts in 2013, and the strain was beginning to show, which was presumably why his next project was an entry in the Fast & Furious franchise which unfortunately hit a patch of bad fortune while in production. The Conjuring was Wan's other horror of that year and proved one of its blockbusters, in the supernatural vein at any rate, but what of the sequel to Insidious, which was also a nice hit for Wan and Whannell (who also appeared once more as a paranormal investigator)? Any hopes that they were going to strike out in a novel direction, bringing new life to what had become a franchise, were dashed within the opening few minutes.
Rather than do to their own material what they had done to others', which was revitalise it with a neat sense of style, here we were served up a plateful of more of the same, please, in that this led on directly from the first movie and continued much the same as it had before, only this time around much of the amusement had worn off. This was fine if you went to see a sequel wanting exactly the same experience as you had enjoyed the last time around, but it was a little disappointing for those who wanted something more radical, or even innovative. So we caught up with Josh (Patrick Wilson) right after he had been possessed in the previous entry, moving into a new house with wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and his kids and doing his level best not to give away his secret.
There followed callbacks not only to the movie's predecessor, but such benchmarks as The Shining (with Wilson doing his best Jack Torrance) and Psycho (because there just had to be a serial killer involved somewhere to justify all those restless spirits) as well, with smaller references to others like Poltergeist, Ring and even a spot of The Phantom of the Opera, among others. With Oren Peli on production duties, similarities to his Paranormal Activity series were on display too, but really you could spend an awful lot of this marking off the boxes on the creators' (or rehashers') checklist of movies they wished to invoke. No film is created in a vacuum, what mattered was whether it entertained, and the answer to that was a guarded yes, but not as much as the first movie had since the sequel was weighed down with having to explain what had gone before rather than leaving a nice mystery, much of the power of a good ghost story being its lack of a reasonable explanation after all. If you wanted more of the same, with many plot points replicated, that's what you got. Music by Joseph Bishara.
[Entertainment One have pushed the boat out as far as DVD and Blu-ray extras go, with loads of featurettes and interviews included on both.]