Can we just say this about director James Wan? If you like horror films and you notice he's directed a horror film, make the investment and see it.
Wan helmed 2010's "Insidious," a movie that cost $1.5 million to make and went on to earn over $97 million - and it wasn't just because of a clever marketing campaign. The guy knows how to manipulate a horror audience. And so, here we are with "Insidious: Chapter 2."
We don't jump right in where the first movie left off. Instead of seeing what happens immediately after Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) rescues his son Dalton from the astral realm known as "The Further," we get to meet Josh as a kid, and learn that clairvoyant Elise encountered Josh for the first time then and exorcised his memory of his supernatural ability.
Cut to the present. Josh's wife Renai (Rose Byrne) is being interrogated by the detective assigned to figure out who murdered adult Elise (Lin Shaye) at the end of the last movie. Josh is the prime suspect, and if you've seen "Insidious," you know why.
In an attempt to escape the horror of previous events, the Lamberts move to Josh's childhood home - admittedly, a plot point that seems to defy logic since Josh's mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), is aware of Josh's dark history in that house. Points off, but I'm still willing to keep my disbelief suspended because so far, the presentation has been quite creepy. Helping to keep it creepy is Dalton, the Lamberts' son who was stuck in The Further in the first film. Now that he's back, he sees dead people - but only when he's sleeping.
That's all you really need to know about the plot. What you really want to know is, "Will I be scared?" The answer is: Yes, you will be! The majority of the credit for that goes to Wan. You're going to have to trust me when I tell you that there are plot holes a-plenty, but they can be forgiven as Wan creates with "Insidious: Chapter 2? the type of palpable, ominous atmosphere horror fans crave - the kind that causes you to dig your fingers into your seat's arm rests right before you jump out of that seat and scream.
Three-and-a-half out of five stars.