Malibu Shark Attack (2009)

Directed by David Lister [Other horror films: N/A]

So I’m not going to claim that Malibu Shark Attack is a good movie, but I will say that, in some ways, it’s a refreshing one, because while it’s not a serious film at all times, this is before Syfy got stupid with their killer shark movies, and this one almost feels like an okay attempt at the sub-genre.

I enjoyed how the tsunami tied into the movie, because seeing those levels of destruction was pretty impressive, and what helped that were the newscasts seen throughout the film. What I liked about these newscasts was that they were appropriately somber and the exact type of thing you’d expect to see in a real situation like this, and it also helped that while the newscasts extensively followed the flooding, sharks never came up, which made it significantly more serious than any of the later shark movies (Sharknado and 2-Headed Shark Attack, I’m looking at you).

Most of the main cast here is fine. I mean, they’re generic, but they get the job done. Admittedly I couldn’t have cared less about Warren Christie’s character (a name you might recognize from Apollo 18), and there were a few others (Jeff Gannon, Sonya Salomaa, and Nicholas Cooper) that left no impression, but everyone else was fine.

Remi Broadway played a character not too different from Christie’s, but I liked Broadway’s story more, and, oddly enough, his budding romance with the irresponsible airhead played by Chelan Simmons (who, fun fact, played that little girl who was killed in the opening scene of the 1990 mini-series It). Simmons was also rather cute here, though for most of the film, her personality was atrocious. Peta Wilson didn’t have an atrocious personality, though – she was a strong character and perhaps one of the best in the movie, so kudos to her.

Now, sure, the special effects of the goblin sharks are horrible, but they’re not as obnoxiously horrible as later Syfy movies, so in a way, it gives this movie a bit of a pass on that. There was a pretty painful scene of a character getting their leg stitched up without anesthetics, and that cut did look gnarly, so that was fun. Overall, nothing in the special effects department ruined the film.

I’ve seen Malibu Shark Attack before, and when I came to watch it again, I wasn’t dreading it like I do some rewatches, and that’s partially because I had an okay time with it the first time around, and the same can be said today. It’s not a great shark movie, but it’s honestly, at least in my opinion, not terrible.

6/10

The Night Before Halloween (2016)

Directed by Sheldon Wilson [Other horror films: Shallow Ground (2004), Kaw (2007), Screamers: The Hunting (2009), Carny (2009), Mothman (2010), Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010), Killer Mountain (2011), Scarecrow (2013), Shark Killer (2015), The Unspoken (2015), The Hollow (2015), Neverknock (2017), Stickman (2017), Dead in the Water (2018)]

In some ways, this Syfy original feels likes a mixture between Sorority Row/Tamara and It Follows, with a group of friends covering up an accidental death and contending with some evil entity or something (and I do mean ‘or something’ – we never learn anything about this entity aside from the fact it takes the form of CGI flies). It’s not the worst Syfy original I’ve seen in my many years, but it’s far from the best.

One of the problems is a similar problem to what Sorority Row had – at the beginning of the film, five friends decide to cover up the circumstances of an accident (that in reality, only three of the friends were involved with), and they have the exact same conversation they had in Tamara and Sorority Row. “Oh, this will ruin our futures,” and “Fine, you can call the police if you want to spend the next 20 years in prison,” that tripe. I’m not saying this isn’t theoretically realistic, but I am saying that as soon as that deal is made, my sympathy for any of the characters, even the hesitant ones, is thrown out the window entirely.

So when people start dying, be it the bitchy girl (Kiana Madeira) or the ‘nice girl’ (Bailee Madison), I don’t care, because these people are all horrible and whether they die or not is the least of my concerns. 

It doesn’t help that the entity isn’t made clear – apparently it can use cell phones (and it uses smileys when it texts, so yay for technological demons, I guess) – but we never learn anything about it’s origins, and we don’t even know if “the curse” that gets passed onto them is legit, because it seems that whether or not you complete it’s specifications (if those even are it’s specifications and not something previously -cursed people thought would help), you can be killed by it anyway.

None of this is the fault of the cast, who are all reasonably fine playing hateable characters. Kiana Maderia later showed up in one of Syfy’s better original movies, Neverknock. Bailee Madison was sort of cute, but also played a horrible person. Anthony Lemke (American Psycho, of all places) played an almost-interesting but ultimately generic cop, so no award there.

When everything’s said-and-done, there are worse Syfy original movies out there (look at 2018’s Karma, which even had a similar idea to this), but there are plenty of better, more memorable films, and I’d probably say the only thing I’ll remember about this one was the okay twist. Otherwise, it’s just not a good movie.

5.5/10

Rabid (1977)

Directed by David Cronenberg [Other horror films: Shivers (1975), The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1991), eXistenZ (1999), Crimes of the Future (2022)]

Given this was a David Cronenberg film, I went in with mild apprehension. I’ve not seen a ton of his films, but out of the ones I have seen (Videodrome, The Brood, The Fly, and Shivers), I’ve only really liked Shivers. Rabid isn’t quite as enjoyable as Shivers is, but I did find it a pretty satisfying and almost time-relevant film.

It took a little while to get going, and at first I thought that most of the mayhem would be centered around the plastic surgery clinic in a localized fashion, but as the movie went on, the battleground against a mysterious virus became the whole of the city of Montreal, which I thought led to some pretty tense scenes. Just seeing multiple scenes of a city under martial law in order to combat the growing virus was great, and gave a great sense of urgency, and it was all so natural in the film.

Perhaps one of my favorite scenes is earlier on, though, right after one of the characters goes crazy at the plastic surgery clinic, and police are investigating the crime. There’s something about it that seems real, organic, with a lot of moving people and some characters walking in and out without even being stopped by police, getting separated and seeing the extent of the craziness.

I have to admit that the two main performances, those of Frank Moore and Marilyn Chambers, left something to be desired. Certainly toward the end, Chambers had some good moments, but neither of the two really did that much for me. Joe Silver (who was also in Shivers, but I forget to what extent) played a fantastically nice guy, and we got our eye candy with Susan Roman (most people would think that Chambers, who has a handful of nude scenes was more attractive, but Roman and the glasses she wears does something to me). No one else in the cast stands out one way or the other.

Like I said, Rabid started out a bit slow to begin with, and it does deal with body horror which is a sub-genre I’ve never much cared for, but during the second half of the film, the larger focus seems to be on the pandemic spreading across Montreal, and the horrors it brings (armed guards standing around the mall, innumerable garbage trucks to pick up dead bodies, people forced to wear Ids identifying them as getting a preventative vaccine), and it just hits harder given that I’m writing this in October of 2020, with COVID still very much a concern to most people.

This movie isn’t at all perfect, but for a Cronernberg movie, I enjoyed it far more than I’d have expected, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’ve not already.

7.5/10

An American Haunting (2005)

Directed by Courtney Solomon [Other horror films: N/A]

I’m somewhat of two minds about this one. I certainly like some of the scenes in the film, and I don’t object to that much of the movie, but the finale didn’t really feel right to me, and the ending scene itself struck me as just overly dramatic (here’s a hint: instead of screaming at a moving car, just call the police to stop the car. It’ll probably work better, at least if you’re white).

Before I go further, I should explain that there are two versions of this film, a PG-13 version and an unrated version. I didn’t know this before hand, but thankfully, it turns out I watched the unrated version, which was about eight minutes longer. I saw this film once before, and I can’t recall if what I watched then was also the unrated version, or perhaps the PG-13 version, but either way, what I thought about the movie the first time around is about what I think this time around.

I don’t hold it against the film for looking for an explanation that might be a little more memorable than your average supernatural movie, but I have to say, even with the tiny hints and clues that something else was afoot, it felt, at least to me, that the ending came out of nowhere. Also, while I believe that the victim of such a circumstance might be forced to forget about the incident, others who happen to just walk into such a situation strike me as not being able to forget so quickly. It just felt odd, especially when it seems that the entity, whatever it was, set out to harm and persistently bother both Donald Sutherland’s and Rachel Hurd-Wood’s characters.

Some years ago, I watched a Japanese film known as Tales of Terror: Haunted Apartment, and it was mostly a decent little Asian horror film. That was, until the ending, which threw in a plot twist that, as far as I could tell, was basically never hinted at once throughout the previous hour and a half, and it just felt like it was thrown in to shock people. Here, there are hints given, but I don’t know if they’re too subtle or maybe not given enough, but it just didn’t really feel like an earned finale to me.

I’ve only seen Sutherland in a handful of movies (the most recent ones being the 2004 Salem’s Lot mini-series and the 2003 remake of The Italian Job), but I think he’s pretty okay here. I think that if the story had been changed up a little, his character could have been a lot better, but hey, he’s still a good actor. Rachel Hurd-Wood is solid too, though she doesn’t necessarily have a high amount of personal agency in the movie. Sissy Spacek (most famous now and forever for Carrie) was fine here, as was James D’Arcy (who played Jarvis in the ill-fated Agent Carter series), but neither one blew the top off the house.

Many of the haunting scenes themselves are decent, though few are stellar. Much of it is the being-held-down-by-an-unseen-entity variety, but that carriage scene was pretty solid from beginning to end. Also, I think Hurd-Wood’s interactions with the spirit at school were all enjoyable, though I wish the spirit had done more to help her than to terrify her, but then again, who am I to criticize how a spirit operates?

Once all is said and done, and we get past that ending which still feels off, An American Haunting is an okay movie, and certainly more well-made than some other versions of the story (such as the low-budget 2004 Bell Witch Haunting), but I don’t think there’s enough here for me to call it a good movie, even with the unrated version at my disposal, and overall, while I think there’s some good things here, ultimately it’s below average.

6/10

April Fool’s Day (1986)

Directed by Fred Walton [Other horror films: When a Stranger Calls (1979), I Saw What You Did (1988), Trapped (1989), Homewrecker (1992), When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)]

Though mired somewhat by a mixed reception, April Fool’s Day is a classic that I will never not enjoy.

A large part of this is due to all of the characters. In truth, the kills themselves are somewhat light, but the variety of characters here still add a lot of vitality to the movie, and the opening scenes, while almost overwhelming insofar character introductions (there are quite a few characters thrown at us that we need to keep track of), do a good job of showing us who we’ll be watching for the next hour and a half.

So let’s take an unnecessarily lengthy time and go over each and every cast-member, shall we?

Jay Baker cracks me up here. He plays the Texas boy Harvey, and he’s fun in pretty much every single scene he’s in. It helps that he wants to plow some fields wink wink. Deborah Goodrich (Nikki) never really stuck with me, but she’s in the movie, so she’s fine too. It helps that her name is Mary O’Reilly O’Toole O’Shea, and she fucks on the first date. You know who else is fine? Ken Olandt (Rob, who was also in Leprechaun), as he’s a solid protagonist and there’s little to really dislike him for.

Griffin O’Neil (Skip) is of good quality. No complaints. Leah Pinsent (Nan) is probably my favorite character, especially toward the end when she’s just trying to read her book in peace amidst the celebrations going on. I really find her a lot of fun here, as Nan is totally my type. Clayton Rohner (Chaz) is something else, and of course, in this case, ‘something else’ means a lot of fun. He also wants to hide the sausage with Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future, brah), and seeing Rohner and Wilson just goof around like that is a lot of fun.

I don’t know if Amy Steel stands out amidst the characters as much as she did earlier in Friday the 13th Part 2, but she still makes for a pretty solid focal point. It’s Deborah Foreman (my girl Muffy) who really shows talent, though her obviously different personality in the latter half of the film felt almost too telling (which I guess is the point, so I won’t complain). Foreman’s probably best well known for, aside from this one, Destroyer, Waxwork, Lobster Man from Mars, and the ever-classic Valley Girl (this last one is, unfortunately, not horror), and I definitely think she’s a lot of fun here, from beginning to end.

Certainly, it could be said the kills are lacking. Much of the action, such as it is, happens off-screen, and usually that would be at least a mild cause for concern, but it works here due to, one, the nature of the story, and secondly, you’re already having a lot of fun watching these guys hang out, mess around, and get fooled by fake cigars, so the fact that the blood is a bit light isn’t a giant issue.

As for the conclusion, I think it’s pretty suspenseful, and they really get all the juice they possibly could out of the situation (I do love it that when Kit finally figures out what’s going on, Rob is still bellowing in the background). It’s worth mentioning too that, even had I not loved the ending (and I’m not going as far as to say I loved it, but I never had a problem with it), it wouldn’t badly impact the rest of the film – look at Slaughter High. That had perhaps one of the worst endings imaginable, and it still rocks in awesomeness.

From the beautiful island setting to the collection of fun and playful characters (I really can’t get enough of the cast – fantastic job all around getting these performers together), April Fool’s Day has never disappointed me. It’s not the best the 80’s has to offer, but it is pretty damn good, and I’ll stand by that.

8.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss April Fool’s Day, a true classic.

Valentine (2001)

Directed by Jamie Blanks [Other horror films: Urban Legend (1998), Storm Warning (2007), Long Weekend (2008)]

Life sometimes strips away the finer things, and leaves but a burnt out husk in it’s wake.

That’s how I see Valentine.

There was a time in my life when I really enjoyed this movie, and would place it alongside Urban Legend, Cherry Falls, and I Know What You Did Last Summer as great post-Scream slashers. My recent visitation with Urban Legend has already removed it from that list, though, and unfortunately, the same has happened with this one, which is a damn disappointment.

Valentine is a movie I really wanted to end up enjoying as much as I used to, but I just couldn’t. It certainly had it’s strong elements, such as the design of the killer (and not just the mask – the overall dark clothing was, as the kids say, off the chain-hook), the small comedic scenes (such as the speed-dating or the argument between Benita Ha and Jessica Capshaw), and the solid opening (Katherine Heigl being stalked by the killer). Hell, most of the kills are actually pretty decent (my favorite perhaps being the bow-and-arrow murder).

Even with all of these positive portions, I found the whole of the film somewhat, for lack of a better word, shallow, and definitely, by the end, somewhat under-cooked.

Most of the acting is fine. I don’t think anyone is particularly great, mind, but most of the main performances (such as Marley Shelton, Jessica Cauffiel, David Boreanaz, Daniel Cosgrove, what-have-you) are competent enough to not cause any issues. If there was one moderately iffy performance, I’d have to point at Boreanaz, but it may be more because I disliked his character than the actual ability behind his acting.

It’s largely the conclusion to this one that really lets me down. Some of my issues are small things (for instance, I do not believe for a second that, at a party of something like a hundred people, only one person would be in the hot-tub, and no one would be in the game room), but the reveal of the killer’s identity also strikes me as weak. It didn’t help that I was reminded in part of Alone in the Dark, which is a much better movie than this one in most ways.

I’m not saying that Valentine can’t be a good watch, and to a certain extent, I enjoyed a decent amount of the film. The ending just doesn’t really do the rest of the film justice, which is a shame because I think Valentine had a lot going for it.

Oh, and one more point which I thought was somewhat amusing. I mentioned earlier that I recently rewatched Urban Legend, and found it lacking. It’s a better movie than this one is, to be sure, but it still felt just as tame and held back as Valentine feels, at least to me.

As it turns out, and I honestly didn’t know this until after finishing Valentine this time around, this film and Urban Legend share the same director, being Jamie Blanks. Given that piece of information, it makes sense that this rewatch went about as poorly as Urban Legend, which, again, is a shame.

No doubt there are worse movies out there, and I also don’t doubt that I’ll see this one in the future, and perhaps I’ll even see Valentine in a moderately kinder light with my next viewing. Right now, though, I think it’s below average, but not disastrously so.

6/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. It’s a quality podcast, if only because I’m there. As such, if you listen to the video below, you can hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Valentine.

Videodrome (1983)

Directed by David Cronenberg [Other horror films: Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), The Dead Zone (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1991), eXistenZ (1999), Crimes of the Future (2022)]

David Cronenberg is a director I have a difficult time with. I respect much of the work I’ve seen from him, and Videodrome is no exception, but few of his movies are films I’d actually call enjoyable, and again, Videodrome is no exception.

It’s not for lack of trying, either – I’ve now seen Videodrome something like four, perhaps five, times. I’ve consistently not loved it, and though many of the visual elements are great, and certainly some of the ideas within the movie are worthy of praise, as a whole package, this movie feels more like a mess.

To be fair, much of this is due to the fact that I simply don’t understand exactly what’s going on. “Long live the New Flesh” is a fun saying and all, but what exactly is the “new flesh,” and how does Bianca O’Blivion’s “new flesh” differ from Barry Convex’s “new flesh”? Brian O’Blivion is interesting, no doubt, and I found his appearance on the talk show quite amusing, but his philosophical ramblings, devoid of any practicality, wasn’t my idea of a good time.

Certainly, science fiction that challenges the viewer with new and sometimes befuddling concepts isn’t something that need be a problem. Much like Triangle, though, I just don’t get exactly what’s going on in this movie (and especially toward the end, which I guess isn’t really the end for Woods’ character, just the end of his arc in his current flesh?), and when a movie has great special effects but a troublingly confusing story, that’s a bit of an issue for me.

Like I said, this isn’t something I went into blind – it’s a movie that I’ve seen multiple times. I was actually hoping for a bit more enlightenment this time around, since before now, I’ve not seen this one in quite a long time. Nothing doing, though, which, while that might be a shortcoming on a personal level, I can’t pretend that doesn’t impact my views on the film.

I don’t have that much to say about the performances. I think that James Woods is decent here (and during the talk-show about violence on television, I tended to agree with everything he was laying out), though not really a stand-out performance. Debbie Harry played one of the more interesting characters (for the screen-time she had), and I certainly wouldn’t have minded learning more about Jack Creley’s Brian O’Blivion, but others fell somewhat flat, such as Sonja Smits and Peter Dvorsky. Overall, there wasn’t much to be amazed by as far as the actors and actresses go, but that’s not really a big issue, as that’s not really what this movie was going for.

What it was going for, or at least by far the most memorable thing about the film, was the special effects, which were pretty solid throughout. Obviously there are some very striking scenes (such as a head going into a television screen, and a man poking his hand into a slit in his stomach), and it’s certainly impressive, but I can’t say that it necessarily made up for any of the perceived issues I had with the story.

In many ways, Videodrome is a cult classic that just never did it for me. I certainly respect the film, but like many of the Cronenberg movies I’ve seen (The Brood being the first that comes to mind), the focus on body horror just doesn’t appeal to me. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that the only Cronenberg movie I actually enjoyed was Shivers, also known as They Come From Within, though of course that may change once I finally get around to watching Rabid or Scanners.

Videodrome is a movie that’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of classic horror or science fiction, and especially if you enjoy off-the-wall movies that make you think. It’s just not something I’ve ever really liked, and as such, have to throw it a below average rating, no matter how much that damns me in the eyes of some.

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Videodrome.

Bruiser (2000)

Directed by George A. Romero [Other horror films: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Hungry Wives (1972), The Crazies (1973), The Amusement Park (1975), Martin (1976), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Creepshow (1982), Day of the Dead (1985), Monkey Shines (1988), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar’), The Dark Half (1993), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), Survival of the Dead (2009)]

This movie is a hodge-podge of different ideas, and I think that’s partially why it came across, at least to me, as a mess. It’s part thriller, part romance, part comedy (I guess?), part slasher, and for the lulz, it throws in some music at the end.

Listen, the fact that Romeo directed this doesn’t bother me. I enjoy Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead (I’ve yet to see any sequels past that), but he’s not someone who I’d rate up there in the best horror directors, and if he wanted to change things up with this one, so be it. It’s just that Bruiser is such a mess that it defies almost any enjoyment.

Hell, it’s an hour and 45 minutes, and I watched every second. I still have exactly no idea what “brusier” even means, and that’s a problem, but just one of many.

Primarily, it could be said that the fact Brusier isn’t strictly horror is my biggest personal issue. Don’t get me wrong, even if it focused more on horror and less on the thriller/romance/fantasy stuff, I’d probably still rather dislike it, but it just seemed all over the place, as if it had no idea what it was going for (some scenes were openly comedic, but that never seemed the main idea either).

The whole premise bothers me, to be honest. This living carpet of a man wakes up one morning and his face is all white, probably because he has no identity (well, an overtly aggressive identity, anyway). Why this is is never explained, or how. Or what. It just happens, and it didn’t interest or intrigue me at all, especially once I found out we probably weren’t getting any answers on that anyway.

Jason Flemyng was decent in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but he doesn’t suit the role here. To be fair, no matter who took on the role, I’d have hated it, but even so, Flemyng doesn’t seem right here. Peter Stormare (Fargo) was unbearable in his over-the-top role, and I hated him. Tom Atkins (The Fog, Night of the Creeps, Halloween III) is here, but it also doesn’t do anything at all for me, given how poor the film is.

Listen, I don’t even want to harp on this anymore – for some people, Bruiser apparently worked fine. It’s straddling the 5/10 rating on IMDb, so enough people found it competent, at least. I didn’t. I legitimately didn’t have a good time at all. I felt it was going for some deep message about identity, but it never really makes it clear, and without a focus, it felt like a mess. Oh, and that last scene? Just shows me that the whole thing is a joke that no one bothered to explain.

I’ll throw it a few points for Flemyng’s recital of a poem, though, and for that scene where he shoots his backstabbing friend. Otherwise, this has little to nothing going for it, at least not in my opinion.

4/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Brusier.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Directed by Zack Snyder [Other horror films: Army of the Dead (2021)]

Perhaps one of the best zombie movies of the 2000’s, this remake does a lot right. I happened to see this before I caught the original, and while I do like the original more, this version is no slouch, and it’s a solid ride throughout.

I think a large part of this is how some of the characters here develop, such as Michael Kelly’s CJ, who started off as an utter jackass, but then becomes quite a valuable team member. It’s accurate, actually, to say that most focal performances here are solid, from the lead actress, Sarah Polley, to the sarcastic rich asshole, Ty Burrell (who cracked me up throughout).

With such a large cast, I want to at least give kudos to most of these performances. R.D. Reid, Boyd Banks, Jayne Eastwood, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Kevin Zegers, and Michael Barry (who I randomly know from the Goosebumps two-parter The Werewolf of Fever Swamp) were all solid in their roles. I didn’t care much for Lindy Booth (though her actions may play a role in that) or Inna Korobkina, but it was nice seeing Ken Foree and Tom Savini here.

Being a big budget film, the special effects and cinematography were pretty top-notch. I don’t think I have a favorite scene of gore, but some of the shots early on in the film, showing the destruction of Sarah Polley’s suburban life, are shot beautifully. The chaos there is fantastic, and you have to love it. Also, throwing on what may be one of Johnny Cash’s best songs (“The Man Comes Around”) during the title sequence was a solid choice.

There are some scenes throughout the film that personally never did that much for me, such as the baby sequence, and, in relation, the degradation of Mekhi Phifer’s character, who was somewhat interesting at the beginning. It makes sense in context, but I still don’t care much for it. Lindy Booth (who, if she looks familiar, you may remember from Wrong Turn) plays a character who suffers multiple losses, but still ends up making a rather stupid mistake late into the film. Still, the parking garage scene in fun, and their escape attempt, with their decked out buses, was quality too.

Dawn of the Dead is a somewhat longer film (the version I went with was an hour and 50 minutes or so), but it doesn’t really drag at any point, even when some characters are thrown in who never really get screen-time (such as those played by Jayne Eastwood, R.D. Reid, and Kim Poirier). We get some time lapses of their life in the mall, which are equal parts amusing and realistic. And when the action comes around, it sure do come around, brahs.

This is a fun movie throughout, and there’s a reason why so many fans of the genre give it such props. Like I said, I don’t think it’s as good as the original Dawn of the Dead, but this is still a well-done zombie movie well worth the respect it’s gathered.

8.5/10

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

Directed by James Wan [Other horror films: Stygian (2000), Saw (2004), Dead Silence (2007), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2013), The Conjuring 2 (2016), Malignant (2021)]

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Insidious whatsoever. Oddly, I find this sequel mildly more enjoyable, though, odd mostly because it feels almost more Hollywood and conventional than the first. I’m not saying it’s even a good movie, but marginally better? I can roll that way.

What struck me as consistently interesting was how the film was peppered with flashbacks, both scenes explaining more of the history of Josh Lambert’s childhood experiences with the supernatural, along with some scenes from the first movie given more detail here. It was all easy enough to follow along with, and an interesting way to expand the story.

As it was, the mystery behind the entity that seems to have taken over Josh was generally engaging. While they may have gone into over-explanation mode, I still found it decent. And to be fair, there were other solid sequences too, such as the can-on-a-string scene, which was suitably creepy, or perhaps the best sequence, Josh Lambert being questioned by Carl near the end, which was unbelievably tense.

Still, like I said, the movie isn’t amazing. The performances are all fine enough, we see a surprise face returning from the first movie, but even so, nothing here really blows me away at all. It’s not a poor watch, by any means, but there’s not enough here to warrant much in the way of a re-watch.

Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson had a solid chemistry, as always. Steve Coulter (Carl) was a fine additional, and I enjoyed his dice-based mediuminess. Neither Rose Byrne nor Barbara Hershey wowed me, but Patrick Wilson put in a very solid performance, and as always, Lin Shayne was nice to see, in a slightly more background role.

I have to say, though, that the ending here was just terrible. Perhaps it’ll be carried on into the third movie, but even if it is, that ending was just horrid.

Insidious: Chapter 2 is marginally more enjoyable than the first part (I know I may be one of the few who believes this, but there you go), but it’s not that good a movie, and it’s not something I could see going back to that often.

6/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Insidious: Chapter 2.