DIR: James Wan • WRI: Leigh Whannell • PRO: Jason Blum, Oren Peli • DOP: John R. Leonetti • ED: Kirk M. Morri • DES: Jennifer Spence • Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye
I understand the commercial logic of the genre classification system but if ever a film suffered economically because of its label the ‘horror’ is the one. The French label of ‘fantastique’ for films about the supernatural world is much more appealing to the sophisticated audience amongst us.
Anyway, Insidious: Chapter 2,while very much being a commercial product of the capitalist cinema machine, becomes much more interesting when reading it as a metaphor for, and a place to escape from, the horror of today’s recession-riddled patriarchal society. And if you know enough ‘horror’ films you’ll find its intertextuality clever and entertaining.
The film begins where Chapter 1 ended. Renai returning to find the dead body of Elise Rainier in her living room and Josh gone. It quickly brings those who don’t remember – or haven’t seen Chapter 1 – up to speed by cutting to Renai being interviewed by the police. Renai played by Rose Byrne, who I know as Ellen Parsons, the brilliant legal protégé of Patty Hughes (Glenn Close) in the TV series Damages, and so have no problem believing her version of events. She explains how her son Dalton was in a coma as a result of getting lost while astral travelling so the family engaged the services of Elise to help bring him back. Josh Lambert, Dalton’s father, possesses the same gift for astral travelling and agreed to go to the other world, The Further, to try and find him. He succeeded and they returned to the family home. Renai left Josh with Elise to take care of the children, when she returned she discovered Elise dead and Josh no longer in the room.
The policeman, firmly grounded in the present, asks Renai if she believes what she is saying . He clearly doesn’t and thinks Josh killed Elise, he tells Renai that he will be back in touch when he gets the results of the DNA tests.
Against the genre grain, and just as I was seeing the haunted house as a metaphor for pyrite damage and negative equity, believing the house to be haunted, the family move to the safety of Josh’s mother’s house. But the fear follows. This horror films monster comes not from the house but from within the family itself. The traditional family unit, monster breeding ground of the patriarchal system.
But fear not, as per its genre requirements, the film journeys with the aid of ‘Ghostbusters’, parasites, the castrated man et al towards its ending, restoring the audience’s faith in the system allowing them to leave the cinema fears released and re-repressed. Or does it?
Without spoiling the plot the film actually concludes with perhaps a sense of hope for the future in the feminine. The film is only 105 minutes but feels longer, dragging a bit after the hour mark, when the ghost busting troupe get tangled up before they manage to infiltrate the zone of ‘The Further’. That said it is for the most part gripping and much to my relief, with fear of ‘horror’, I only screamed once and actually enjoyed the film.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Insidious: Chapter 2 is released on 13th September 2013