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Insidious: Chapter 2 Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Review

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) movie poster Insidious: Chapter 2

Theatrical Release: September 13, 2013 / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: James Wan / Writers: Leigh Whannell (characters, story & screenplay); James Wan (story)

Cast: Patrick Wilson (Josh Lambert), Rose Byrne (Renai Lambert), Barbara Hershey (Lorraine Lambert), Lin Shaye (Elise Rainier), Ty Simpkins (Dalton Lambert), Steve Coulter (Carl), Leigh Whannell (Specs), Angus Sampson (Tucker), Andrew Astor (Foster Lambert), Hank Harris (Young Carl), Jocelin Donahue (Young Lorraine Lambert), Lindsay Seim (Young Elise Rainier), Danielle Bisutti (Mother of Parker Crane), Tyler James Griffin (Young Parker Crane), Garrett Ryan (Young Josh Lambert), Tom Fitzgerald (Bride in Black/Old Parker Crane), Michael Beach (Detective Sendal)

Buy Insidious: Chapter 2 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet DVD + UltraViolet Instant Video

Imagine you spent a few months working a job that you enjoyed, that made lots of money, and that advanced the careers of everyone involved with it. Now imagine there was the chance to reunite with those people and try to do it again. Would you take that chance? Of course you would and so did the makers of Insidious,
the 2011 supernatural horror movie that grossed nearly $100 million worldwide on a production budget of just $1.5 M.

The film's creators were no strangers to that kind of genre success. Leigh Whannell and James Wan had written and directed, respectively, the franchise-spawning original Saw. Jason Blum and Oren Peli had produced the even more lucrative Paranormal Activity and its sequels.

Distributor FilmDistrict had not experienced anything comparable; Insidious was the very first film they released. Its success would prove tough to duplicate for the young company, which subsequently endured ten consecutive flops before last spring's sleeper Olympus Has Fallen gave them another profitable performance. With key personnel game to give it another go, Insidious: Chapter 2 was a no-brainer for the studio. Though this sequel easily exceeded expectations in its September 2013 release, its Friday the 13th opening would become the penultimate theatrical debut for FilmDistrict, which soon after announced its closing and absorption of future releases into Universal's Focus Features, who will take on FilmDistrict's Peter Schlessel as its new CEO January 2014.

Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) is again disturbed by what she sees inside her house in "Insidious: Chapter 2."

While the Insidious series could not save FilmDistrict, it chalked up two substantial wins for low-budget horror, a subgenre that might be in peril after the Saw franchise was finally shelved and Paranormal Activity jumped the shark on its fourth outing. Meanwhile, horror at large got a big shot in the arm over the summer when Wan's The Conjuring grossed well over $300 M worldwide on a relatively modest $20 M budget. By comparison to that, Insidious: Chapter 2 remained defiantly frugal, raising its budget only to $5 M and being rewarded with major gains over its predecessor in both domestic and foreign markets.

Chapter 2 opens at the Lambert residence in 1986. That might not immediately ring bells for you, but it is the childhood home of the original film's patriarch, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). Then around the start of his teens, Josh (played by Garrett Ryan) is being tormented by otherworldly forces. The psychic from the first film (played by Lindsay Seim but clearly and distractingly dubbed by Lin Shaye) does what she can to ease life for the boy and erase memory of his supernatural gifts.

Back in the present, Josh, his wife of twelve years, Renai (Rose Byrne), and their two children (Ty Simpkins and Andrew Astor) think they've put their traumatic experiences related to the spirit realm ("The Further") behind them. They're not quite finished yet, though, as Renai fears that Josh isn't quite himself. (With good reason -- possible spoiler -- he has become inhabited with the spirit of a cross-dressing serial killer known as the Bride in Black.) Josh's mother (Barbara Hershey), Elise's former colleague (Steve Coulter), and the returning comic pair of ghost hunters (Whannell and Angus Sampson) investigate and observe the household in an effort to bring the Lamberts some much-needed peace.

Who ya gonna call? These guys! Could this mother-daughter portrait connect some way to the mysteries of "Insidious: Chapter 2"? You bet!

In bonus features, Wan explains he set out to make Chapter 2 a direct extension of the first film and he seems to succeed. The original Insidious was not memorable enough to recall in great detail, but one does remember it scaring with an effective presentation of classical chills.
Chapter 2 offers more of the same. You'll need to have recently viewed the predecessor to recognize that at one point the sequel even casts a moment from it in a new light. But even without that kind of awareness, you're likely to determine that this immediate continuation is consistent in composition and success to the original.

Wan is a master at unsettling, whether with old-fashioned jump scares or in thrills less instinctual. With the right set-up, something as benign as a knock on the wall can put you on edge. This sequel avoids the leisurely establishing act that original films require. After that 1986 prologue, it jumps right back into the deep end of its horror pool, letting characters enter and explore the spirit realm and be bloodlessly terrorized in their own world by creepy glimpses of unknown guests and baby toys that light up on their own.

Chapter 2 is kind of a wild goose chase that requires you to accept the logic, lapses, and convenient developments the film gives you. You assume everything will turn out okay, but that does not prevent this from being another fun ride involving calculated but compelling jolts and occasional use of the first-person found footage mold. The production is exceptionally polished for the $5 M price tag. The camera tricks and make-up effects demand more creativity and time than money, making this the rare sequel not undone by commercial ambition. One hopes that Wan, his cast, and crew are suitably rewarded for their efforts, but their work appears to be motivated by passion and not profits.

Diverting though it may be, this sequel is even more quickly forgotten than its predecessor, which dampens some of the enthusiasm to be mustered for the obligatory plans announced last month for a third Insidious film to hit theaters in April 2015, under the Focus Features label previously reserved for arthouse fare. After his potent 1-2 punch of Chapter 2 and The Conjuring, Wan seems to need a break from supernatural horror, which he is getting in the helm of the recently-complicated, just-delayed Fast & Furious 7. Whether he and his underadvertised leads who have tasted success elsewhere return for the third chapter remains to be seen.

Chapter 2 hits stores tomorrow, with video partner Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presumably (and reasonably) assuming that last-minute shopping and gift card prevalence will offset any chance this gets lost in the Christmas bustle.

Insidious: Chapter 2 Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Both: Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: December 24, 2013
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $40.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($30.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Though its budget puts it in the company of independent films, Insidious: Chapter 2 looks every bit as polished and terrific as major new studio fare. The Blu-ray's 2.40:1 presentation is just about flawless, the only hiccups being the deliberate kind in segments shot by characters on handheld video or given the appearance of a 1980s camcorder. Often dark, but always sharp and detailed, this transfer leaves nothing to be desired. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio warrants praise too. Between jump scare punctuation and the harsh strands which accompany the title logo, the mix has some peaks. Sound design is a key component of the film's atmospheric thrills.

Cameras capture an aged Patrick Wilson working out his hand pain in "Peripheral Vision: Behind the Scenes." A ghoul has his ghastly make-up touched up in "Ghostly Transformations."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Insidious: Chapter 2 is joined by six bonus features on Blu-ray,
all of them presented in HD and more substantial than expected.

First up, "Peripheral Vision: Behind the Scenes" (15:23) is kind of a general purpose making-of featurette. It discusses bringing the cast back, the film's dramatic demands, and even proceeds to discuss costume design and set decoration and the rationale behind them.

"Ghostly Transformations" (7:19) covers make-up effects, explaining the thought and effort that went into ghosts, ghouls, corpses, and Patrick Wilson's deterioration.

Writer/actor Leigh Whannell interviews his fellow Australian ghostbuster Angus Sampson. Barbara Hershey and Patrick Wilson are among those taking part in "Work in Progress: On Set Q & A."

"Leigh Whannell's Insidious Journal" (7:44) shares the perspective of the writer/actor, as he takes us behind the scenes and interviews fellow Aussie castmate Angus Sampson.

"Haunted Hospital: On Location" (8:51) has crew members and paranormal bloggers discuss their experiences at the abandoned Linda Vista Community Hospital, where a sequence of the film was shot.

The nice, unusual "Work in Progress: On Set Q & A" (23:30) gathers the cast and key crew in a circle for a candid and spirited discussion about this sequel, and how and why it was made in this fashion. Director James Wan joins fifteen minutes into this piece, which displays questions as text screens.

Specs, Tucker and Elise brave The Further and an aged element in three "Insidious: Spectral Sightings." The widest of Insidious: Chapter 2's poster designs serves as the static main menu of the film's DVD and Blu-ray.

Finally, three "Insidious: Spectral Sightings" web shorts (12:19) present rough-looking videos capturing the paranormal investigations of the comic relief ghostbusters and Elise.

More to incentivize Blu-ray purchasing and less to keep compression reasonable, the far from capacity DVD, the same one sold separately,
only includes two of the six extras, "Peripheral Vision" and "Ghostly Transformation."

The "Previews" listing repeats the same trailers with which the discs open, advertising Pompeii, Cold Comes the Night, Ice Soldiers, Last Vegas, Elysium, and the original Insidious. Disappointingly but typically, Insidious: Chapter 2's own award-nominated trailers do not make the cut.

On each disc, menu plays score over a static poster image. The Blu-ray Disc supports bookmarks and also resumes playback. Topped by a glossy slipcover, the side-snapped blue keepcase adds an insert holding your unique combination Digital HD UltraViolet/Sony Rewards code between the plain DVD and full color Blu-ray.

Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) again must carry a torch into the spirit realm known as The Further.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Insidious: Chapter 2 probably isn't a movie that will leave a lasting impression on you, but the 100 minutes you spend watching it are entertaining, as James Wan serves up more of his effective supernatural thrills. Sony's Blu-ray combo pack should satisfy fans with its outstanding feature presentation and strong collection of extras whose only glaring absence is deleted scenes. While I'd recommend this to horror fans who prefer suspense to gore, the series is worth a look even for movie fans who aren't devoted to the genre.

Buy Insidious: Chapter 2 from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet / DVD + UltraViolet / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Directed by James Wan: Insidious The Conjuring Death Sentence | New: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Prisoners Fast & Furious 6
Produced by Oren Peli and Jason Blum: Dark Skies Paranormal Activity 2 Paranormal Activity 3 Paranormal Activity 4
Patrick Wilson: Young Adult The Switch Morning Glory | Rose Byrne: I Give It a Year Knowing | Ty Simpkins: Iron Man 3
Poltergeist The Ring The Hole Orphan The Devil Inside The Apparition 6 Souls
2013 Sequels: Star Trek Into Darkness Grown Ups 2 The Smurfs 2

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Reviewed December 23, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 FilmDistrict, Stage 6 Films, Entertainment One, BlumHouse Productions, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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