“Insidious 2″ Casting Review

**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Considering that the first Insidious was a runaway success at the box office, it’s no surprise that they decided to make a follow-up to the 2010 film. Aptly titled Insidious: Chapter 2, the story picks up right where the first one ended. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne return as the married couple “Josh and Renai Lambert”, and are still reeling from the fallout of rescuing their son “Dalton” from a malevolent spirit. Although the Lambert family tries to go back to the way things were, Byrne’s Renai quickly realizes that something is wrong with her husband . . . or, at least, the person pretending to be her husband.

As mentioned in our review of Kick-Ass 2, casting for a movie sequel is always an interesting affair, and even more so when it comes to horror/scary movies. Casting here can be tricky because traditional sequels are actually quite uncommon for the genre, due to the fact that the main casts in these types of films are often all killed off, or left in such a state where continuing their story in a follow-up would be difficult and/or forced. Insidious: Chapter 2 accomplishes quite an impressive feat in that pretty much the entire main and supporting cast return to reprise their roles. Even actress Lin Shaye reprises her role as the psychic/medium “Elise”, despite the fact that her character was killed at the end of the first movie!

Since Insidious: Chapter 2 doesn’t really introduce any new characters to the franchise, it’s important to then look at how the actors reprising their roles mesh together in this second outing. Patrick Wilson’s Josh takes front-and-center this time around and gets to play both the hero and villain. Once again, Wilson does an excellent job with the character and is easily convincing as the normal, loving husband who also happens to be possessed by an evil spirit with the desire to kill his family. The release of this film is interestingly timed due to the fact that Wilson was also the lead in the film The Conjuring, which came out just two months ago and is also a horror/scary movie about evil spirits and possession. Although being in back-to-back genre movies released so closely together is usually looked upon in this industry with a raised eyebrow, Wilson has nothing to worry about here. Both The Conjuring and the Insidious films were directed by James Wan, and besides being box office hits, the films have also been well received critically—not an easy feat for in the horror/scary movie genre. Wan is currently directing The Fast & Furious 7, which is Universal Studios’ most successful film franchise to date. Although I’m sure Wilson legitimately enjoys working with Wan, it doesn’t hurt that Wan is one of Hollywood’s hottest directors, which helps put Wilson in an even better position in his already accomplished career.

Moving on to the other cast members: Rose Byrne’s Renai actually takes more of a back seat position in the sequel, which is kind of a shame since she plays the role superbly, and always lights up the camera when she’s on screen. The slight reduction in Byrne’s character is easily forgivable though because the supporting cast members all get a significant, and well-deserved, bump to their characters. Ty Simpkins’ Dalton gets more room to stretch his acting legs here (Dalton was in a coma for most of Insidious), and it’s fun to see how his character is incorporated with all the adults in the movie. Simpkins is a budding young actor and definitely someone to watch for years to come—he most recently had a great role opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man 3. Barbara Hershey, who plays Josh’s mother, “Lorraine”, also has an expanded role in the sequel. As head matriarch of the Lambert family, she readily takes charge and spearheads the campaign to get to the bottom of their paranormal maladies. In fact, the plot for Insidious: Chapter 2 can be divided into two main storylines—the first being Josh’s plight and Renai’s struggle as she tries to keep it all together; and the second being Lorraine’s investigation to learn more about the evil spirits that are tormenting her son and family.

However, Lorraine’s investigation would not be possible without the help of paranormal experts “Specs”, “Tucker”, and “Carl”, reprised by actors Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, and Steve Coulter, respectively. Specs and Tucker are a welcome return, and provide the majority of the comic relief. Their added screen time isn’t just wasted on throwaway gags, either: the film actually expands upon the characters’ history, as well as their relationship with the now-deceased Elise. With Elise’s absence, Steve Coulter’s Carl now steps in as the lead psychic on the case and gives a delightfully nuanced performance as the frail and insecure medium, which creates a much needed juxtaposition to the more aggressive and powerful Elise. As previously mentioned, actress Lin Shaye also steps back into Elise’s shoes, and has more than just a surprise cameo here—her character’s presence is definitely felt throughout the entire film, and, the story even hints that she’ll be back in the third installment of the franchise (the movie already debuted with great numbers, so a threequel is already in the works).

Last but not least, the main spirits in Insidious: Chapter 2, are definitely worth mentioning—specifically the “Mother of Parker Crane” played by Danielle Bisutti, and the “Bride in Black/Parker Crane”, played by Tom Fitzpatrick. Although they have very minimal lines in the film, they are absolutely central to the story and the actors definitely deserve praise for creating characters that are truly creepy and frightening to behold.  It’s also great to see that the film actually created a backstory for these ghosts, giving us an often overlooked perspective as to why these spirits do what they do.

Although there aren’t any major casting additions to Insidious: Chapter 2, this sequel takes the more unique approach by bringing back the entire main cast from the first film, and, for the most part, expanding on everyone’s characters and relationships. The fact that all these actors returned for a sequel is a true testament to their commitment and passion for the story, which is a product of an expertly crafted cast.

Extra viewing tip: This film picks up almost immediately after the events from the first one so seeing the original Insidious is a MUST. Insidious: Chapter 2 is still a solid movie on its own, but it’s difficult to understand and accept the mythos behind the story without seeing its predecessor.

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Kyle