Insidious: Chapter 2

discs more than honey

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. More Than Honey We’ve all heard the stories. Bees are disappearing, en masse, all around the world, and no one seems to know why. The theories are endless and include everything from global warming, pollution, pesticides, mites, and more. This doc from director Markus Imhoof looks at the issue strictly from the angle of humans whose livelihoods depend on the bees’ honey. As is the expected norm with nature documentaries, this one features some gorgeous photography of the bees in action both in the air and in their honeycomb homes. It’s also fairly informative, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit more information when it comes to the various beekeepers’ behaviors. Why, for example, in a documentary about the mystery of disappearing movies does one old Swede decapitate his queen bee with his thumbnail? Still, exploring the domestication of bees is an engaging path to the filmmaker’s theory as to why they’re all flying away with little more than a “So long and thanks for all the fish!” [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview with director, deleted scenes, making of, image gallery]

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These things happen like clockwork. Insidious: Chapter 2 cost about $5m to make. This weekend, it grossed more than $41m. And now, precisely one day after that opening weekend, comes the announcement that we’ll be getting an Insidious 3 (it’s probably safe to assume a Chapter 3 subtitle will be attached). Leigh Whannell, writer of the first two Insidious movies, will be back to write screenplay number three, but there’s been no mention of a director so far. Probably because, in a recent interview with Moviefone, Insidious (and Insidious: Chapter 2) director James Wan plainly stated that he is “finished with the horror genre.” So don’t expect him to return to the series, unless major script rewrites turn it into a romantic comedy or an animated movie where talking dogs enter a surf contest.

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rose byrne heaven

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. For the past few weeks I haven’t been able to drive around Los Angeles without seeing Rose Byrne‘s face on every street corner. She’s always screaming, with her eyes and mouth widening by the second. It’s disorienting. And also great marketing from the people behind Insidious: Chapter 2, because that billboard of Byrne holding onto her children for dear life is eye-catching. A part of the credit, of course, must go to Byrne. With both Insidious films she’s been consistently terrorized, and somehow, she manages to keep each horrifying reaction less comical than it should be. Her character can never catch a break in these films. Byrne herself caught a big break in 2007 with FX’s Damages, an undervalued show which rightfully earned her two Golden Globe nominations. Before her work on Damages, Byrne had been acting steadily in supporting roles, including appearances in quality films like Danny Boyle’s sci-fi masterpiece Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later, Adam, Marie Antoinette and the underrated sci-fi thriller Knowing. Not too shabby of a filmography to make a living off of. Then, in 2011 she had a highly successful year when a broad American audience discovered her on the big screen, with both Insidious and Bridesmaids. This year she has been seen in The Place Beyond the Pines, the very funny I Give It a Year and the significantly less funny The Internship. But if you want to see Byrne at the start of her career than look no further than the 1999 short film The Date.

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review insidious chapter 2

Some sequels continue unfinished stories from where their predecessor left off, but others just use the name as a launching pad towards something completely different and usually far inferior. I’m looking at you Meatballs Part II. Happily, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell have gone the former route with the follow-up to their 2010 horror hit, Insidious. Unfortunately, that’s one of only a few things to be happy about here. Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) have just survived a ghostly ordeal, but when Josh returned from the other side where he found and rescued their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), he brought something evil back with him. Chapter 2 picks up in the minutes and days that follow as the Lamberts move to Josh’s mother’s (Barbara Hershey) house only to discover the horror is ongoing. Ghosts roam the halls, threats of violence hang in the air, and Josh is no longer the man he once was. Insidious: Chapter 2 is for the people who actually liked the final minute of Insidious as opposed to seeing it as the only low-point in an otherwise fantastic horror film. There are fun moments to be had here, but they’re front-loaded and minimal when compared to the sloppy, cluttered, and frequently ineffective rest.

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FSLC2011_FilmCommentSlcts 633_godlis

There’s a legitimate reason why the Insidious sequel is called Insidious: Chapter 2. It’s a continuation of the first movie, not a departure. That was important for director James Wan and co-writer/co-star Leigh Whannell, who both hit the jackpot with 2004’s Saw. The first Insidious was their biggest hit since their breakout film, after Wan took a shot at action with Death Sentence and the duo’s rocky time on Dead Silence. So it goes without saying that the Insidious franchise is important to them. I spoke with James Wan and Leigh Whannell the week before Wan scored an even bigger hit with The Conjuring. That movie showed more of who Wan is as a filmmaker, and with him now taking on a Fast & Furious sequel, he’s firmly establishing himself as a go-to storyteller. A decade after breaking out, the scary pair is just getting started.

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SONY DSC

James Wan is one of the most adaptive directorial personalities in modern genre filmmaking, but his career didn’t always seem like it would turn out this way. Wan’s Saw was an indie mega-hit, spawning the most extensive horror franchise of the 21st century thus far. But Wan quickly distanced himself from the films, attempting to establish himself as a genre auteur of diverse skill sets. With his underwhelming one-two punch of Dead Silence and Death Sentence in 2007, he failed to develop a reputation away from the franchise that found continued success beyond him. But with Insidious and The Conjuring (this summer’s sleeper hit and one of the few pieces of Hollywood entertainment that actually entertained in the past few months), Wan found himself the modern master of the supernatural haunted house thriller, a horror sensibility miles away from the “torture porn” craze Wan’s franchise inception became associated with. This weekend sees the successful director helming his first sequel, Insidious Chapter 2, and Wan has signed on to make the next entry in the recently revived Fast/Furious franchise. Point being, Wan has proven himself against the limitations of the subgenre constraints he helped create, showing that he is a filmmaker interested in appealing to mass audiences through a variety of popular genres. So here’s some free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the director who forces us to ask how creepy dolls will fit into a movie about race cars and muscle-y bald men.

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insidious-chapter-2-03

If you’ve already seen the first trailer released for James Wan’s upcoming horror sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, then you’ve got the basic gist of what’s in its new international trailer as well. It’s starts with the same heart-warming footage of a family enjoying each other’s company, takes the same turn when it starts to look like their troubles might not be over after all, and then ends with the same stinger of that creepy dude yelling in Patrick Wilson’s face about having his baby. If, like many, you’re a huge fan of the first Insidious and are anticipating the hell out of this sequel, you’re still probably going to want to take a look at the second trailer though. Not only does it include even more spooky-looking ghosts than the first did, and a few more of those tense moments that Wan is getting so good at creating (Have you seen The Conjuring yet? It’s terrifying), but it also provides some hints regarding the further world-building that this next installment in what now seems likely to become the Insidious saga is going to be doing. To be more specific, it starts to dig a little bit into the Wilson character’s past.

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Insidious 2

Since they killed Darth Maul in the first one (I think), the Insidious: Chapter 2 production has gotten a few scarier villains — ones that absolutely hate wire hangers — to take his place. With James Wan at the helm, Leigh Whannel behind the screenplay, and Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson returning to star, the entire creative team that made the first film such a hit is back in full force for the sequel. This time around the story finds The Lambert family discovering a deadly childhood secret that explains why they can’t seem to sever their connection to terrorizing ghosts who want to steal their babies. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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trailer insidious 2

Insidious is one of the best horror films of the past few years, and while some viewers feel the comedic elements in the second half mess with the tone too much the film’s only real failure comes in the final minute. If you’ve seen it you know exactly what I’m talking about. The events of those last 60 seconds seemed to preclude the possibility of a sequel, but director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell apparently think otherwise. The follow-up sees the Lambert family moving on only to discover their nightmare isn’t over. Most of the cast is back along with a new medium who they hope can identify and eliminate the source of their haunting. Turn off the lights, wrap yourself tight in a warm blanket, and take a peek at the trailer for Insidious: Chapter 2.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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