Insidious: Chapter 2 (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 13-Mar-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror / Thriller Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Peripheral Vision: Behind the Scenes
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Ghostly Transformations
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Leigh Whannellís Insidious Journal
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Haunted Hospital: On Location
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Work In Progress: On Set Q&A
Featurette-Insidious: Spectral Sightings
Trailer-Additional Sony titles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 105:47
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By James Wan
Studio
Distributor
SONY Pictures
Universal Sony
Starring Patrick Wilson
Rose Byrne
Ty Simpkins
Barbara Hershey
Lin Shaye
Leigh Whannell
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Joseph Bishara


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
German DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Arabic
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
French
German
Norwegian
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† Disclaimer: This review will not spoil Insidious: Chapter 2, but itís recommended that you do not read ahead unless youíve seen the first Insidious, as the surprising ending of the first film leads directly into Chapter 2 and will be discussed.

†††† Itís doubtful that 2011ís Insidious was designed with a franchise in mind, but the micro-budgeted horror picture was a rousing success, grossing almost $100 million from a $1.5 million budget, and receiving surprising critical acclaim. Because itís easy to get filthy rich from such investments, we now have Insidious: Chapter 2, a direct sequel to its predecessor which brings back practically all of the original cast and crew. Whereas the first movie was fundamentally a take on the Poltergeist storyline, Chapter 2 is closer to The Shining. With a change in focus, this sequel feels like less of a continuation of the original Insidious and more like a follow-up to the original movieís last act. Luckily, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell have assembled an overall solid film in Chapter 2, even if itís not perfect. It is a tad overwritten, but the film definitely delivers where it counts.

†††† With paranormal medium Elise (Lin Shaye) dead after being strangled by the malevolent spirit that inhabits the body of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson), the police begin an investigation, discounting all claims that something supernatural is involved. To allow for things to calm down, the family move in with Joshís mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), whoís hospitable towards Josh, his wife Renai (Rose Byrne), and kids Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor). However, Renai is wary of the situation, curious about sudden changes in her husband, and terrified by supernatural occurrences around the house. Lorraine recruits paranormal investigators Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), who team up with Eliseís old friend Carl (Steve Coulter) to get to the bottom of the situation. Meanwhile, the real soul of Josh is stuck in the spiritual realm of The Further.

†††† Insidious was a fairly simple picture, with screenwriter Leigh Whannell putting a fresh spin on the haunted house genre, purposely avoiding the most hoary clichťs to create something distinctive. It paid off, but Whannell and Wan only scratched the surface of the movieís mythology, leaving a lot of baggage for a sequel to deal with. Unfortunately, Chapter 2 attempts to do too much, working to build an extensive backstory behind the old woman in the first flick, and spending more time in The Further. The material is admittedly interesting, but it only occasionally translates to a chilling viewing experience, often neglecting the type of primal thrills that worked so well in the original film. Itís not a deal-killing decision, but the end result pales in comparison to its predecessor, with expository dialogue rendering the storytelling oddly leaden. Fortunately, however, the proceedings eventually click into gear and Wan settles into a satisfying groove, leading to plenty of momentum as well as a finale that raises the pulse, silly moments notwithstanding.

†††† The original filmís sense of pervasive dread was lightened by a somewhat campy final third which turned the experience into a fun old-fashioned fright flick, but Chapter 2 shows minimal interest in this type of material, only providing a smattering of gallows humour courtesy of Tucker and Specs. Itís amazing how much Wan is able to do with so little. Even though Chapter 2ís budget has marginally increased since the original flick, it was produced for a scant $5 million, minuscule by Hollywood standards. There is no denying that Wan is a master of building a sense of unease, and his talents are visible throughout the movie. Even despite the uneven pacing, this is a highly atmospheric movie, and itís easy to fall under Wanís spell. Itís the directorís use of careful camera angles, shadows, eerie images and above all the perfectly spine-chilling sound design which gives Insidious: Chapter 2 a great deal of power. Achieving true cinematic terror in 2013ís cynical movie-going climate is nigh on impossible, yet Wan continues to demonstrate his ability to do so, and seemingly with little effort.

†††† Patrick Wilson was given an ostensibly impossible task, asked to play the role of a demon within a human body. It would be easy to overplay the character, but Wilson strikes the perfect balance, being subtle in his body language thatís just a little bit off, and being suitably scary when he needs to be. Furthermore, Wilson had to play Josh as well, and admirably pulls that off too, although we donít see much of the real Josh during the movie. Byrne, meanwhile, is expectedly strong, but its Barbara Hershey who fundamentally becomes the heroine of the movie, with her role of Joshís mother having been beefed up considerably. Fortunately, Hershey does a fine job, and sheís served well by the other returning players. Whannell and Sampson are delightful, and Lin Shaye returns here in a handful of scenes to nice effect.

†††† Wan scored another mega-hit in 2013, with The Conjuring attracting the type of acclaim, hype and box office dollars that most horror movies can only dream of accomplishing. Itís a shame that Insidious: Chapter 2 is a noticeable step down in quality, but itís still more creative than the glossy, PG-13 spook films that less skilful filmmakers inundate us with. When it works, itís an intriguing continuation of the strong first movie, and it leaves room wide open for Chapter 3. And honestly, more sequels would be enticing, as Insidious is more of a traditional horror series rather than found footage (like Paranormal Activity, which shares Insidious producer Oren Peli) or torture porn (like Saw, which was ironically spearheaded by Wan). Plus, Insidious: Chapter 2 is far better than either of the Poltergeist sequels.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, Insidious: Chapter 2 looks great in high definition, with an AVC-encoded transfer that remains faithful to the source and does justice to the movie. This is an outstanding, albeit heavily stylised, video presentation and itís hard to imagine anyone being disappointed by it.

†††† This is a dark movie, with plenty of night-time sequences and a number of scenes set in The Further, yet Sonyís transfer handles everything extremely well; my finicky eyes did not detect any problematic encoding anomalies.

†††† Colour is also solid, with daytime scenes looking vibrant and energetic. Fine detail is exceptional, with the movie exhibiting superb clarity from beginning to end. Close-ups reveal every last detail on the actorsí faces, and the make-up effects can be admired in glorious, pristine HD.

†††† A reference-quality transfer for this solid horror movie.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† Wan is a filmmaker who relies a lot on audio to create effective horror, and Insidious: Chapter 2 is no different. Given a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, this supernatural chiller comes to life on Blu-ray; it really gave my surround sound system a solid workout.

†††† The unnerving score by Joseph Bishara is a standout - itís well-mixed, providing many chills and scares, enhancing the visuals terrifically. This track makes beautiful use of the surround channels to create a truly immersive horror experience. Chilling sounds like screams and creaks emerge from the rear channels to make it seem like your home theatre room is haunted, and thereís exceptional subwoofer activity to give the sound effects real impact. Dialogue, meanwhile, is consistently clear and well-prioritised.

†††† Horror fans are going to love listening to this track, especially if they have a surround sound system to take full advantage of it. Itís an enveloping, engaging, technically proficient track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

†††† Not too many extras here.

Menu

†††† A static menu that's fairly creepy.

Peripheral Vision: Behind the Scenes (15:23)

†††† A slightly erratic production featurette which touches on several aspects of making the movie, covering concept, story, casting, special effects, directing, and the shooting of a number of scenes. Too slight to be substantial, but worth watching.

Ghostly Transformations (7:19)

†††† A detailed behind-the-scenes look at the make-up and prosthetics department on the movie. Wan is a firm believer in using practical ghosts and ghouls as opposed to CGI, a philosophy that I support. I enjoyed this featurette.

Leigh Whannellís Insidious Journal (7:44)

†††† This is a fun little featurette, with writer and actor Leigh Whannell documenting a number of moments on-set during the shoot. Heís joined at times by his co-star Angus Sampson, whoís very much in tune with Whannellís sense of humour.

Haunted Hospital: On Location (8:51)

†††† Not strictly another behind-the-scenes featurette, this segment is concerned with a certain filming location that is said to be haunted. Paranormal investigators speak about this location, and the filmmakers chime in with their experiences during location scouting and filming. Interesting stuff, though if you flat-out donít believe in the paranormal, you might not enjoy this.

Work In Progress: On Set Q&A (23:30)

†††† A number of cast and crew - including Leigh Whannell, producer Jason Blum, actors Patrick Wilson, Lin Shaye and Rose Byrne, and, eventually, director James Wan - take a break from filming to field some questions from an audience. There is some insightful stuff here, but because spoilers are forbidden, the questions donít go as deep as I wished they would have.

Insidious: Spectral Sightings (12:19)

†††† Three webisodes are included here, which can be played either individually or via a ďPlay AllĒ function. The shorts involve Tucker, Specs and Elise investigating something paranormal.

Previews

†††† An advertisement for Sony movies on Blu-ray.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † All regions appear identical, with just differing audio and subtitle options. Buy local.

Summary

††† It's not perfect, but Insidious: Chapter 2 is an entertaining fright film bursting with atmosphere. If you liked the first film, you'll most definitely enjoy this one.

††† I don't have many complaints about Sony's Blu-ray. Video and audio are sensational, and the extras are enjoyable, if a bit light. Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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