‘Insidious Chapter 2’ review

Insidious Chapter 2 is a sequel to the indie horror hit Insidious. For those who haven’t seen it – and you should! – Insidious was one of the best horror films of 2011; the story revolved around a couple’s son who enters into a coma and becomes a vessel for spirits. The first film got many things right with suspense and pacing in the first half, but totally lost the plot in the second half of the film. A sequel was never planned for Insidious, so when Chapter 2 was announced based on how well the first film performed in the box office, I was curious to find out where the story would go.

Insidious Chapter 2 picks up the story from where the previous film left it, with a seemingly familiar ghost-follows-family-to-new-home plot. And while this has been done many times, what shines is how well the sequel’s plot meshes into events from the first film. It’s pretty impressive for a retconned storyline. I also liked the frequent use of colour red throughout the film – through red-coloured objects, door, and lighting – to add an eerie atmosphere in every scene. Joseph Bishara’s score, especially the use of piano sonatas, complements the sense of tension throughout the plot.

I never quite understood though why Insidious – and this sequel – sometimes turns to slapstick humour through the characters of two paranormal investigators during intense scenes. It almost feels like a formulaic decision made by the studio to ease tension during highly strung scenes. If there’s one thing that detracts this film from being “great”, it would be this.

I confess I’m a huge fan of director James Wan’s work: Saw is a perennial favourite among horror films for me. Insidious Chapter 2 is heavily influenced by The Conjuring (PS – I fucking hated that film), another recent Wan film, as he has confessed himself. But while The Conjuring felt mainstream, I loved how Wan presumably had the freedom to try out a bolder story in this smaller budget film. I don’t have high hopes for the planned third film the Insidious series, but for those who liked the first film, Chapter 2 gives a well-rounded to closure to the story.

Rating: 3.5 / 5


‘Rush’ review

Rush movie poster

I love biodramas, especially when they carry the pedigree of the team that was put together for Rush. Directed by Ron Howard – with previous hits such as Apollo 13A Beautiful Mind, and Cinderella Man – and screenplay by Peter Morgan – with the experience of screenwriting for Frost / Nixon, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Last King of Scotland, and The Queen under his belt – Rush tells the story of the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. There possibly couldn’t be a better team than these two for attempting to tell the story.

I am not particularly fond of or follow Formula 1, despite having attended two F1 races in person. Yet even for someone who absolutely has no idea of the backstory or an interest in motorsport racing, the film has enough going in the drama aspect to keep the most disinterested viewer engaged. This is partly helped by the colourful character that Hunt was, a sort-of playboy who stumbled onto race driving when not sleeping around with anything with a pair of legs and boobs. I can’t think of anyone other than Chris Hemsworth to play the part.

The counterbalance to Hunt’s character in that of Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Bruhl, couldn’t be starker in contrast. A fastidiously disciplined driver who didn’t believe in showing off like Hunt did, nor enjoying the popular support among his peers for his personality, it’s apparent that Lauda was a character at once to be admired and respected without being likeable. Lauda suffered one of the most horrific car crashes in Formula 1 history which left him in a searing inferno, with much of his face burned off. You can’t help but admire his resolve as he fights for his life in the hospital and makes it back onto the track in time to defend his world championship position. It’s fascinating how Hunt and Lauda start with despising each other, and then eventually learning to respect each other in how they both drove the other to accomplish what neither thought they could motivate themselves to do.

As always for a Ron Howard film, the cinematography is spectacular. He works magic in being able to take filming cars going around on a racetrack – never an easy task during live races due to production constraints – and breathes life into it. Fast cars, gorgeous women, larger-than-life characters – Rush has it all.

Rating: 4 / 5