Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Steve Coulter, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Andrew Astor, Danielle Bisutti, Hank Harris, Jocelin Donahue
Director: James Wan
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Running Time: 106 minutes
Synopsis: A haunted family struggles to uncover a terrifying secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world in Insidious: Chapter 2, the latest nerve-twisting horror thriller from director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious).
Release Date: November 7th, 2013
'We're a family again. Nothing is going to bother us anymore. I promise."
~ Josh Lambert
Working individually and collectively, director James Wan, screenwriter Leigh Whannell and producer Jason Blum have been responsible for some of the most influential, commercially successful and flat-out terrifying horror thrillers of the past decade.
In 2004 James Wan and Leigh Whannell unleashed the ground-breaking and hugely popular Saw, which spawned a blockbuster franchise on which Leigh Whannell continued to serve as a writer (Saw II and III) and executive producer. James Wan most recently helmed the acclaimed haunted-house tale The Conjuring, while Jason Blum has shepherded such blood-curdling hits as Paranormal Activity and Sinister to the screen. Together, the trio collaborated on the disturbing and original 2011 psychological horror thriller Insidious, a micro-budgeted film that became the most profitable theatrical release that year.
Now all three filmmakers are back"along with the entire cast of Insidious"with Insidious: Chapter 2, which continues the story of the Lambert family's life-and-death struggle with malignant spirits bent on destroying their lives.
'We're super excited at the chance to continue telling the story we started in the first film," says Wan, who makes his sequel-directing debut. 'I love the characters we created in the first film, and it's great to come back to work with the same cast and crew. It's like coming home to a family. But it's also very scary because the success of the first film took us all by surprise."
Insidious centers on the troubles of the Lamberts, a suburban family who leave their haunted house for a new home, only to learn it's not their house that is haunted"it's their eldest son. Insidious: Chapter 2 rejoins the family as they try to put their recent troubles behind them, but discover that the spirits that have tormented them are far from finished.
James Wan and Leigh Whannell took the unusual step of calling the film Insidious: Chapter 2 because it picks up right where the first film ends. 'Not too many sequels try that, but we loved the idea of creating back-to-back stories," says Leigh Whannell. 'You could almost watch them as one movie, or as chapters in the same story. We see Josh murder Elise, but Renai doesn't see it and she's not quite sure what's going on. So at the start of the second film, everything seems back to normal, but slowly you realise something is terribly wrong."
Jason Blum says his primary objective as producer was to ensure that the indie spirit James Wan and Leigh Whannell brought to the first film was not diluted, despite the fact that Insidious: Chapter 2 had a slightly larger budget.
'The first film had a single vision"James Wan and Leigh Whannell's"pushing it forward without any kind of interference or creative compromises," the producer says. 'I believe that's one reason the film did so well, so we didn't want James Wan or Leigh Whannell to make any creative compromises with the sequel either."
The filmmaking duo, whose creative partnership goes back to their college days in Melbourne, Australia, say their inspiration has always come from trading ghost stories with one another. Even during the filming process, they constantly bounce around ideas and concepts that they then incorporate into the film.
'If you have enough similarities, or if the same stories excite you, then it's really easy to work together," says Leigh Whannell. 'James Wan and I are pretty in sync that way, especially when it comes to horror."
Or as James Wan puts it: 'We've always tried to scare the crap out of each other. And then one day we said, -We should put this in a movie!' And that's literally what we did for Insidious. We took all the scares, all the great ghost stories we'd heard, and put them in the film."
The film hit a nerve, connecting with audiences domestically and abroad.
'When you deal with themes of the supernatural, I think it's universal," James Wan says. 'Different cultures have different ways of exploring these themes, but I think they pretty much come from the same place. That's why I think these kinds of movies play really well internationally; people all around the world get them."
Leigh Whannell concurs: 'Countries that have a lot of folklore tend to have a really strong tradition of bogeymen and ghost stories. When James Wan and I were living in Melbourne, he would tell me a lot of Malaysian and Chinese ghost stories that came from his side of the family. People have been telling these sorts of stories for thousands of years. They have a long history of it."
In addition to picking up the tale of the Lambert family where the original left off, Insidious: Chapter 2 explores a larger mythology and backstory for the characters, says James Wan. 'It's really a bigger movie," he says. 'When we were making the first film, we had plans and ideas for a follow-up, but we didn't push it all the way. We thought, -We'll see. We'll play with it and see how it goes. There may be a potential second storyline.' And sure enough, when the first film did well, we could actually go back and pull out that second storyline and continue it."
Insidious revolves around young Dalton Lambert, who has the ability to travel out of his physical body"a gift he inherits from his father, Josh. As a result of this ability, he is haunted by the spirit of a mysterious old woman and a red-faced demon who seek to possess his physical body. It's also revealed that, as a boy, Josh was terrified by an old woman who would visit him at night. But his memories of that event were intentionally suppressed. Insidious: Chapter 2 opens up the possibility that Josh was never actually healed"and that the old woman never left.
'We're big fans of the metaphysical world and we thought it would be really cool to use astral projection in a film," James Wan says. 'It's a cool concept"the idea that, when you're asleep at night, the soul or spirit leaves your physical body and goes floating off. We wanted to do a haunted-house film, but we also wanted to do something that was a bit different. So we melded the two together."
'It's a perfect conceit for a horror film," adds Leigh Whannell. 'We kept saying, -Why hasn't anyone used astral projection?' That's something that really gets us excited"an idea or concept that we feel has not been used before"and we hadn't seen astral projection in any other film."
James Wan and Leigh Whannell also folded in another, more familiar concept"albeit one seldom seen in the horror genre: time travel. The film ventures 25 years into the past to reveal the sinister events at the root of the evil that is haunting the Lamberts, tying up the unresolved mysteries of the first film and delving deeper inside the dark netherworld known as The Further.
'Because the first film was such a stylised and fantastical world, the time traveling aspect actually fit perfectly into the second film," James Wan says.
The filmmakers used the concept in an original way to bridge both films so that they could be viewed as two parts of a whole. In one instance, they show the back-story of coma-ward patient Parker Crane"a newly introduced character. But instead of using the traditional flashback method, the filmmakers reveal Crane's troubled past via a journey back through time within The Further"a void-like area beyond time and space.
'I said to Leigh Whannell, -Wouldn't it be great if Chapter 2 actually visits the first film in some way? How awesome would that be?" James Wan recalls. 'So we started thinking how we could show elements of the first movie where you're not quite sure what happened, and then in Chapter 2 you see them again but from a different perspective. We love stuff like that."
Leigh Whannell was equally excited by introducing the characters' ability to visit past events that took place in Insidious. 'That's probably my favorite part of the sequel"the elements of time travel where the second film visits the first film. We also liked the idea that the first film focuses on an external ghost that's haunting the family, but in the second film the ghost is internal. It's one of the family members. In the first film, Dalton's being threatened by outside forces, but the second film tells the story of what happens when the ghosts get in, if you aren't successful in stopping them."
The filmmaking duo sees Insidious: Chapter 2 as more of a psychological thriller than a horror film. While Insidious was infused with haunted-house-film archetypes, James Wan says Chapter 2 focuses less on gore and CGI effects than on tapping into audiences' most basic childhood fears.
'I would describe it as a domestic thriller with a supernatural edge to it," James Wan says. 'The ghouls are coming back, but this film isn't about that as much. I feel like I've already established the characters, so now I can get into them without being too gimmicky, while still keeping those elements that people love. The first one was a lot more straightforward, which is great for a first movie, but in a sequel you want to expand on the mythology. You want to show people more of the world you've created, and that's what we did with Chapter 2."
Bringing Back The Lamberts
About the Casting
Insidious: Chapter 2 features a multi-generational family dealing with ghosts"from grandmother and parents all the way down to young children and a baby. Even the film's ghost hunters span older and younger generations.
The father of the family is Josh Lambert, played once again by Patrick Wilson, who marks his third collaboration with James Wan. In addition to Insidious, Patrick Wilson also starred in James Wan's recently released The Conjuring, which is based on a true story of a family that encounters spirits in their New England farmhouse.
The Josh Lambert of Chapter 2 is hardly the same person he was in Insidious, however, according to Patrick Wilson. 'He's literally vacant because he's possessed. We know that he's possessed, but will Renai find out? It's structured like a murder mystery with this husband and wife not getting along and her trying to figure out why that is. She wants to believe her husband, but he's acting bizarrely."
In fact, Patrick Wilson's character is so different that it's essentially a new role for the actor, says Leigh Whannell. 'Patrick Wilson had such a good role and a good time because he's actually not playing Josh Lambert from the first film, and he really took to that. He ate it up. He couldn't get enough of it and he really contributed so much to making the film work with his character."
Indeed, Patrick Wilson says he relished playing the Josh Lambert father under the control of a sinister spirit. 'For me, those moments when I'm -possessed Josh' and mowing through doors and walls are the most fun," he recalls. 'It's a great release."
Patrick Wilson says he was never a big fan of horror films that reveled in gore, but has always responded to those that focus on more human elements. 'It was those films that didn't rely on a lot of tricks that terrified me as a kid," he remembers. 'They were human stories. And that's what interested me with this film. It feels like an adult drama played out as a horror movie, and it also has humorous elements. For me, whether it's a horror movie, an action movie, a comedy, whatever, you have to care about the people. And specifically in a horror movie you have to be rooting for people, especially when they're a family in peril."
The actor praises James Wan for his ability to move beyond genre tropes and create a character-driven horror film.
'He can construct these scares and knows this genre better than anyone," Patrick Wilson says. 'He's just one of the most creative filmmakers we have. I wouldn't work with him so much if I didn't feel that, and I'm lucky that he wants to work with me. Most of all, he understands that in order for people to get invested in these characters you have to let them breathe; you have to hear their story."
Australian native Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class, Bridesmaids, 28 Weeks Later) reprises her role as Josh's wife, Renai. At the start of Chapter 2, her character is still shaken by the events that transpired in the first film and is spiraling into depression.
'It's literally a day later and she's on the verge of a nervous breakdown," Rose Byrne explains. 'She's thrown into action and, because of the events around her, that takes all her energy"she's just trying to keep it together."
In the first film, Rose Byrne notes, Renai and Josh are united in their fight against the demons that are haunting their family. But that's not the case in Insidious: Chapter 2.
'Josh is the one who is possessed in this film, but in the first few scenes it's sort of played down," the actress says. 'He's kind of acting strange and dismissing Renai's neuroses and her nervous breakdown, and then he slowly starts to unravel during the second half of the film. This time I'm really by myself."
Rose Byrne says she was initially attracted to the project by the complexity of the story and the characters. 'I saw it as a family drama that turns into a thriller and, for me as an actor, that is definitely the way you can empathise with the situation and make a reality of it. It's definitely more sophisticated than just a simple horror film."
Rose Byrne also knew how skilled James Wan is at delivering onscreen scares. 'The first time I saw Insidious, I was just terrified," she recalls. 'I couldn't even watch it at night; I had to watch it in the middle of the day, and even though I knew what was going to happen, I was still terrified."
The filmmakers brought back Academy Award®-nominee Barbara Hershey (Black Swan, The Portrait of a Lady) to portray Josh's mother and the Lambert family matriarch, Lorraine Lambert. The actress notes it's the first time in her distinguished career that she has been cast in a sequel to one of her own films (the same is also true for Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne).
'Coming back is definitely easy because we all know each other and are relaxed with each other now," says Barbara Hershey, who also played a woman tormented by a demon in the 1982 classic The Entity. 'I really think having good actors and a good script allows audience members to get more involved with and identify with the characters."
'I've always thought that if you care about people and you care about what happens to them, then you get really frightened for them," she says. 'I just think it heightens everything. And the fact that James Wan was doing a character-oriented film made it seem like a great project to do."
In Chapter 2, Barbara Hershey notes, the action gets off to a running start, with things already on edge and her character taking an active role in solving the mystery.
'Lorraine is now part of the gang, especially as she joins Specs and Tucker on their explorations into the supernatural," she says, referring to the film's two untested ghost hunters. 'In this film, the death of Elise is like the elephant in the room; it informs the whole film and permeates every scene. They all loved Elise. Lorraine was her friend. And Carl, the psychic, who's from my past, also has a connection to her."
The return of character actress Lin Shaye (There's Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber) in the role of hypnotist and supernatural expert Elise Rainier may come as a surprise to Insidious fans, given that her character was mysteriously killed at the end of the original.
'During the first movie, James was going back and forth about having me killed at the end because he wanted me back if there was a sequel," Lin Shaye recalls. 'And then he remembered that because we were making a ghost movie, of course there was a place for me to come back in The Further."
Lin Shaye says she wasn't surprised by the success of the first film and is pleased to be back for the second installment.
'James Wan was paying homage to the genre"to Hitchcock and some of the early horror thrillers like Poltergeist"in terms of building characters and the feeling of the film," she says. 'And the first film looked so beautiful. It drew you right in."
The actress says the appeal of the film stemmed in large measure from James Wan's awareness of the power of exploiting basic childhood fears.
'He talked about using really human elements of comfort that we all have"our family, our bedroom, our children, our front door, our piano; things that give you joy"and then kind of turning them on their heads," Lin Shaye says. 'So it was clear from the start; we knew he was going to lure people in. You kind of fall in love with the family a little bit and worry about them. So he achieved what he set out to do, and I think that's one of the reasons it appealed to everybody."
Lin Shaye predicts audiences will find Insidious: Chapter 2 even more chilling than its predecessor, in part because of the deterioration of Patrick Wilson's Josh into a possessed person capable of murder.
'It's scary on a whole different kind of level, and it's completely realised by an actor of his caliber," she says. 'But what's also a factor is that these are already beloved characters that the audience has embraced, so they're going to come to the movie already rooting for them."
Lin Shaye says her character posed some interesting challenges for James Wan, given that she has dwelled primarily in The Further when we meet her in Chapter 2. Lin Shaye and the director had several discussions about how Elise would have changed in the interim.
'You still want to keep the elements that attracted people to Elise, which are her humanity and love of what she does," Lin Shaye notes. 'She's a nurturer and she's there to help and to solve the problems the Lamberts are having. Because she's in The Further, I wanted to include a bit of sadness, but also a delight in being there. The bottom line is that we're all going to end up dead someday anyway and we're all going to end up passing through this place. And we hope some energy continues."
Leigh Whannell, an actor as well as a screenwriter, reprises his Insidious role as Specs"one half of the ghost-hunting duo that frequently assists Elise. The other half is Tucker, played by Angus Sampson. Angus Sampson met the filmmakers when they were in college in Melbourne. They ended up casting him in a promotional spot for a short film they were making and the trio have remained friends ever since.
'I guess you could say we're the comic relief, but it's a fine line to walk," Leigh Whannell says of Specs and Tucker, who take over Elise's paranormal-activity business after she dies at the end of the first film.
Angus Sampson agrees: 'James Wan did not want our characters to be comical. If they're both coming in and being scared in the same way, it can be kind of ho-hum. They both need to be scared"to share that same destination"but they must get there in different ways."
To research the role, Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson spent time with a team of actual ghost hunters whose outings included a visit to Linda Vista Community Hospital in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. The building, which serves as one of the film's most spine-tingling locations, has earned a degree of notoriety in the paranormal community as a real-life haunted hospital.
For the role of the Lambert's eldest son, Dalton"who was the main subject of Insidious"the filmmakers brought back Ty Simpkins (Iron Man 3). As often happens with young actors, there was some concern about how much Simpkins and the actor playing his younger brother, Andrew Astor (The Hangover), would have grown since completing Insidious.
'The fact that the story picks up directly from the first one was difficult," James Wan confesses. 'Luckily, at their young ages, they still hadn't changed too much."
Patrick Wilson concurs, joking, 'We added a couple of inches to their pajamas and they were good to go!"
Interestingly, it's the third time Ty Simpkins has played Patrick Wilson's son in a film (the first time was in director Todd Field's critically acclaimed 2006 drama, Little Children). For Ty Simpkins, returning to the role after three years was made easier by the genuine emotions evoked on set.
'I basically play myself, but with a little twist," says Ty Simpkins. 'Even when we're not filming and the ghosts are around, I start getting scared. But when they say -action,' that's when I get really scared. So it's kind of easy for me to get into character."
One of a handful of new characters introduced in Insidious: Chapter 2 is Carl Stanaway, a soft-spoken psychic and former friend and colleague of Elise. For that part, the filmmakers cast Steve Coulter (The Hunger Games), an Atlanta-based actor and writer who also co-stars in The Conjuring.
'Carl is a reluctant semi-hero," Steve Coulter says of his character. 'He has a gift for communicating with spirits, but I don't think he's really happy about that. He doesn't want to do any of this. Even the first time he's communing with the spirits, it doesn't work very well. So he's not very confident. His skills are kind of like a curse to him."
Carl uses his psychic skills to communicate with Elise in The Further and to help Josh, who is in the midst of battling the demon attempting to possess him. His main means of connecting with the spirit world is a set of lettered ivory dice that he carries in a leather pouch.
'Basically, he asks questions and he gets answers through the dice," Steve Coulter says. 'It's his only skill. It's the only thing he's good at."
The filmmakers had the challenge of casting younger versions of several of the film's characters"a requirement stemming from the decision to have portions of the film take place in 1986 in order to reveal the origins of the entity that is haunting Josh.
For the young Josh Lambert, the filmmakers cast a relative newcomer, 13-year-old Garrett Ryan (Trust). For the role of Young Lorraine Lambert, a single mother and nurse, they cast Jocelin Donahue (The House of the Devil); for the part of Young Elise Rainier, they cast Lindsay Seim (NBC's 'The Event"); and for the young version of Carl Stanaway, they cast Hank Harris (Pumpkin).
Although Jocelin Donahue doesn't act in any scenes with Barbara Hershey, she says she met with the acclaimed actress and studied her various film performances in order to portray the younger version of her character.
'Hopefully I captured some of her mannerisms," says Jocelin Donahue, who won the 2009 Screamfest Award for Best Actress for her part in Ti West's 2009 cult horror film, The House of the Devil. 'But she is one of a kind."
Two other notable character additions in Insidious: Chapter 2 are Parker Crane, a coma-ward patient with a troubled past, and his mother, Michelle, a flamboyant and evil woman guilty of horrendously abusing her son. Veteran character actor Tom Fitzpatrick (The Salton Sea) plays Parker, while Tyler James Griffin (Golden Winter) plays him as a boy. Danielle Bisutti (upcoming Curse of Chucky, Nickelodeon's True Jackson, VP) plays Michelle.
Although the mysterious red-faced demon from the first film (portrayed by Insidious composer Joseph Bishara) is not featured in Insidious: Chapter 2, there is a visit by the character known as the Long Haired Fiend"the demon who stalks Baby Cali"once again played by actor J. LaRose.
A Lantern In the Darkness
About the Cinematrography
'Is there something wrong with Daddy, Mom?"
~ Dalton Lambert
Insidious: Chapter 2 reteams James Wan with most of the filmmakers he collaborated with on Insidious, including his most frequent collaborator, director of photography John Leonetti (Scorpion King), who also shot James Wan's most recent film, The Conjuring.
'James Wan is an all-around filmmaker who has a keen visual sense," says John Leonetti, who very early in his career was a first-assistant cameraman on the seminal haunted-house film Poltergeist. 'I love collaborating with him to tell a story visually. His understanding of the technical aspects of photography and lighting is quite extensive, which allows us to speak and understand the same visual language. This is my fifth movie in a row with James and most of my crew too. We are a family and I love that."
Thanks to John Leonetti's camera and lighting skills, both Insidious films feature dynamic visuals and striking color palettes that belie their modest budgets.
'The approach to the tone of Insidious was to capture a very natural and realistic image that we could further manipulate," John Leonetti explains. 'The first film started off very realistic and rapidly was manipulated in color and contrast. As it ramped up its -creep factor,' the saturation was slowly sucked out and the image became cooler and cooler. By the end of the movie it was almost a cold shade of black and white."
John Leonetti says he approached Chapter 2 in a similar way, but left the color more saturated than in the first movie. 'We retained a bit more color this time because the locations in their natural state are fairly creepy to begin with."
With much of the film shot in tight interior locations, John Leonetti had to figure out a way to make it look larger and more cinematic for big screen audiences. To do so, he embraced wide lenses and a moving camera to tell the story. He used a 14mm lens as his workhorse, progressively covering the scenes with tighter lenses.
John Leonetti also had to develop a look for the shadowy region known as The Further. In Insidious, the cinematographer says he used blue and green lanterns as the only light source for scenes depicting the great inky space of the afterworld.
He notes that in the new film, The Further has two aspects, one being the Black Void, the other being -real-life' locations within The Further. 'The Black Void is exactly that"a big space made of black floor, ceiling and walls. The floor is layered with ground fog, Josh carries a lantern, and we move around and with him and his lantern. In post, we control the contrast and the black and create an infinity that goes further and further. In the practical locations in The Further, we still use the ground fog and the lantern, and we remove all the -lived in' set dressing and just wander throughout those homes."
In addition to traditional lighting, the film features several scenes that take place in dark rooms and hallways where the actors use video-camera lights and flashlights as the principal light source.
'The key to making this all work photographically was to pick the cameras and camera lights and flashlights in prep and test them," John Leonetti says. 'I like to mix up the color of the flashlights and designate them to the actors to help guide the audience as to who is pointing at what. The realism of using flashlight lighting can be very creepy, but you have to know what you're doing."
John Leonetti says James Wan is a master at using the various camera techniques the horror genre can exploit to maximum effect. 'He loves to push and pull the actors throughout a scene with the camera handheld and then do their POV as well. The decision of whether to use handheld, put the camera on the dolly or use Steadicam is very important, and it is that understanding that separates the men from the boys in shooting horror. Taking the audience along for the ride is what this is all about, and enabling them to be a fly on the wall, right behind or in front of the characters, and how to edit all of that is James Wan's forte."
Whereas the primary camera in Insidious was the RED Mysterium X, John Leonetti says that on Insidious: Chapter 2 he chose the Arri Alexa for its considerable contrast range and ability to work in extreme low-light conditions. 'Digital cameras have finally taken us to a different zone photographically, and James and I have taken full advantage of that," John Leonetti says.
Creating A House Where Spirits Feel At Home
About the Production Design
For the design of Insidious: Chapter 2, James Wan once again teamed with Jennifer Spence (Paranormal Activity 2, 3 & 4), who was elevated to production designer on the film, having worked as art director on Insidious under production designer Aaron Sims.
'On the first film, Aaron Sims gave me carte blanche on the design of most of the homes that were featured," Jennifer Spence says. 'James Wan wanted the Lambert's home to feel like an average house, but with a twist"a little bit darker and with a bigger sense of depth."
In choosing the décor for the various homes and rooms in the film's locations, Jennifer Spence says she spent a lot of time combing the Long Beach antique market for original, unique items"personal things such as old teddy bears or an 1800s reclining wheelchair. 'I preferred this to going to prop houses where the objects have been used a thousand times before," she says.
After the events of the first film, the Lambert family moves into the home of Josh's mother, Lorraine. For that house, the filmmakers found a grand old Victorian in the Highland Park neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles, though they made a point of not playing up the California setting too much.
'What drew me to the house was the wallpaper and the red doors," Jennifer Spence recalls. 'That was really prominent. One of James's favorite colors is red and he tries to use it whenever it works."
The colour red is also prominently featured on the mysterious red door that leads in and out of The Further. It stands out among the film's color palette of earthy greens, blacks and softer reds, and contributes to the overall look of the house.
'I wanted the house to have a lot of antiques," Jennifer Spence says. 'I wanted it to feel like a lot of the pieces came with it, but to also feel homey. In 1986 it's a little more sparse, but when we get into the now, it's much busier. It's the place where it all began for Josh."
The Further, by contrast, is sparse and characterised by the color blue.
'It's devoid of all your personal stuff or connections," Jennifer Spence explains. 'We strip all that out. Sometimes rooms are completely empty, with just the bare bones remaining. We fill it with low light and thick fog. We strip it of all detail."
Given James Wan's penchant for gadgetry in Saw, it should come as no surprise that props play an important role in Insidious: Chapter 2. Prop master Thom Spence, who art-directed Insidious with his wife Jennifer, had a field day both bringing back some of the iconic gadgets he used for the first film and creating some entirely new ones.
'Originality was paramount, and trying to keep it playful," he says, citing discussions with James Wan. 'It was more or less MacGyver meets Frankenstein."
Forced by budgetary limitations to be creative, Insidious made common objects iconic"among them, the old Coleman camping lantern that Josh carries to light his way through The Further, and a gas mask used by Elise. Add to these the ghost-hunting accessories used by Specs and Tucker, such as their tri-field meter for picking up supernatural activity and a customised View-Master toy infused with different colored filters for ultra-violet and infrared ghost detection.
Perhaps most notable among the new props joining the iconography in Insidious: Chapter 2 is youngest daughter Cali's baby-walker.
'This is a baby-walker that becomes possessed and comes alive," says Jennifer Spence. 'We had to make it remote-controllable so we could move it around and control all the lights and bells and whistles that go off on it. We had super fun working on it."
Other key props are the supernatural dice used by the character of Carl Stanaway. Jennifer Spence says he made them out of custom-cut blocks of plastic. 'We carved out the symbols or letters, then threw fissures and imperfections into the dice to make them look more authentic and aged," he says. 'They're kind of his runes. As he throws them, they spell out a message that's coming from the other side."
And then there's the tin-can telephone that is repurposed in the film as a portal for young Dalton Lambert to access the netherworld. 'It's such an iconic thing from one's own childhood that to see it revived in this way is exciting," Jennifer Spence observes.
Dressing The Living and The Dead
About the Costumers
While Insidious: Chapter 2's main characters are dressed in clothing fit for a contemporary suburban California family, costume designer Kristin M. Burke also had to fashion the wardrobe for a host of apparitions and ghouls that populate the film, as well as to recreate the fashions of the mid-1980s for the flashback scenes to Josh Lambert's childhood.
'This movie takes place immediately after the first one ends and so we need to carry on that world seamlessly," says Kristin Burke, who designed the clothes for Insidious, as well as two other films James Wan directed: Death Sentence and The Conjuring. 'We have characters in the film from 2010, because the original movie was shot then. But we also have characters that are in The Further from the 1840s and 1860s, as well as our flashback scenes of our main cast from 1986. So we have a wide span of eras represented, which was awesome because I got to build characters into those time periods."
Burke clothed Josh Lambert, a schoolteacher, in a mixture of work and casual outfits. 'He had school clothes and suits, and in his off time we had him in a lot of plaids and natural kinds of things," Kristin Burke says. 'When he goes into The Further, we wanted him in red plaid because Dalton, his son, is in red plaid, and I wanted father and son to be bonded on a visual level."
For much of the film, she adds, Josh's wardrobe palette is dark because 'he's not being himself."
For the character of Renai Lambert, Kristin Burke says the goal was to emphasise her vulnerability after the harrowing experiences she has come through. 'We used delicate shirts and a delicate silk knit sweater, and it's all very fragile," Kristin Burke says. 'So when you amp up the textures that are associated with the character you really start to feel that about them. By the end of the movie she's in very soft, very tactile, feminine clothes to up the ante on her sense of peril."
By contrast, the character of Lorraine Lambert is dark and imposing. 'Ultimately, she is the strong one in this movie," Kristin Burke observes. 'We used darker colors to emphasise her strength, and we gave her a green trench coat that adds a layer to her that's almost like armor. So when you see her with Rose and she's wearing the trench coat, she's the one in charge."
Burke gave ghost hunters Specs and Tucker distinctive ghost hunting attire consisting of white dress shirts and black ties.
'What we were going for was a cross between the Geek Squad and Mormon missionaries," she says with a laugh. 'But they also wear their normal street clothes. For that, we have one who is really neat, clean and fastidious"obviously Specs"and the other who is kind of messy and sloppy"Tucker."
Kristin Burke was also responsible for the wardrobe of a multitude of spirits and apparitions. In one scene, a group of young female ghouls who were serial-killer victims between 1970 and 1986 terrify Dalton Lambert in his attic bedroom. Some are wrapped in sheets, some in regular clothes, but all of them are dead.
'They are all dressed in the clothes they wore when they were murdered and entered The Further," explains Kirstin Burke, adding she dressed each in appropriate vintage wardrobe from those eras and even devised back-stories for them. 'Those storylines helped us to dress them properly, and it also helped the hair and makeup people give them a little bit more character and flesh them out to make it look more real."
For the flamboyantly evil character of Michelle, whose look was influenced by stars of 1930s films such as Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo, Burke created a custom white silk-and-lace dress.
'James Wan wanted her to be like a sort of classic horror-movie, scary old ghost figure"her hair, makeup, costume, everything," Kristin Burke recalls. 'Since we cast a very beautiful woman in the role (Danielle Bisutti), I thought, let's make her beautiful-scary"a little bit of Baby Jane styling. And we tried to keep all of the noise, costume-wise, away from her face because she has such a powerful look."
In addition to the serial-killer victims, the film features a collection of nearly 20 ghouls"men and women of all ages and ethnicities who are dead but live on in The Further to torment living souls. Outfitted in costumes spanning over a hundred years from the 19th and 20th centuries, they included diverse characters such as mobsters, a milkmaid, a World War II-era Marine and characters from Dickens' England. For their wardrobe, Kristin Burke used cold, gray tones, as well as creating comprehensive back-stories for each of them"to give the actors playing them 'a sense of purpose" during their performances.
Finding The House On The Hill
About the Locations
Filmed entirely in practical locations in Los Angeles, the 26-day shoot on Insidious: Chapter 2 began in January 2013 at the historic Smith Estate, perched on a hilltop in the Highland Park neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles. This well-preserved Queen Anne-Victorian house serves as the home of Lorraine Lambert"and a temporary refuge for her son Josh and his family after the events at the conclusion of Insidious.
Built in 1887, the two-story home is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and was also declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Originally the home of a judge who wrote books on occultism, it featured as a shooting location in Jack Hill's 1968 black comedy horror film Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told, starring Lon Chaney, and the 1979 horror-thriller The Silent Scream.
'This was an amazing location," James Wan says. 'It's really cool because the house is situated on the top of a mountain and the surrounding neighborhood houses are literally underneath it, so it is an amazing vantage point for views around Los Angeles."
According to Rose Byrne, the locations helped her performance because of their authenticity. 'These places they find are very eerie and weird, and dark and low-ceilinged, and that for me is very scary," she says 'I just think, -How could you live in this house?' It's just my sensibility; I'm just way too sensitive for it. Even more than the ghosts and all those sequences, it's the houses that get me."
Another old Highland Park house served for a week as the quirky home of Elise Rainier. Most of the action in those scenes took place in the living room and basement of the 1908 two-story Craftsman. The large basement was divided in two, serving both as the basement of Lorraine Lambert's home and as Elise's reading room, where Specs and Tucker discover the old tape of Elise hypnotising Young Josh.
A third house"this one a 1910 Craftsman-style mansion in the historic Adams-Normandie district in mid-city Los Angeles, serves as the home of the Parker Crane character. The uninhabited home, a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument known as the Beckett Residence, has been featured in many films, television shows and music videos over the years, including Rob Zombie's Halloween. It also serves as a popular Halloween haunted house.
But the huge, run-down mansion was a major challenge for the art department team to dress, says Jennifer Spence. 'Parker is a tortured soul," she says. 'His mother wanted him to be a little girl instead of boy. She's forced him to do evil things. I wanted to make it feel like the house has taken him to a dark place where he's done horrible things that he's hidden away."
The film's final location was Linda Vista Community Hospital in the Boyle Heights neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles. Originally opened in the 1920s, the hospital has served as a location for countless films, TV shows and music videos since it closed its doors in 1991. Notable films shot there include Pearl Harbor, End of Days, Outbreak, LA Confidential and Conspiracy Theory. Today, the property is slated to be turned into low-income senior housing, making Insidious: Chapter 2 among the last movies to be filmed there.
In the film, the location serves as Our Lady of Angels Hospital"the place here, in 1986, young Lorraine Lambert works as a nurse and, with her son, has a memorable encounter with Parker Crane. Filming took place on two floors"one for the flashback scenes, the other set in the present. The hospital was large enough for the crew to do other builds as well"including a police station, Lorraine's dining room, Cali's bedroom and The Further.
The hospital is rumoured to be haunted in real life, too. During shooting, James Wan recalls the crew was moving equipment between floors and one of the grips had a spooky experience while he was standing alone.
'He said he felt a little hand come up and grab and hold his hand," the director says. 'Then he looked down, because thought maybe a bug or something had landed on his hand, but there was nothing there."
To prepare for their roles as the ghost-hunting duo Specs and Tucker, actors Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson also toured the facility and even took part in a nighttime ghost-hunting trip there with a group of amateur ghost hunters.
'The mental games you can play with yourself in a place like that are scary," Angus Sampson says. 'We went down into the basement, past the incinerator, and I found myself sitting in the morgue in the corner wondering, -What's the worst thing that could happen to me now?' It's probably why that location resonates with so many people."
On another occasion, Leigh Whannell returned to the hospital for a ghost-hunting tour with his wife. He says nothing dramatic happened during either of the visits, which involved a lot of sitting around in dark places and asking for spirits to show themselves. However, he says his wife subsequently saw a psychic who asked her if she had recently visited a place with white, arched ceilings.
'She said, -Maybe this hospital?' and the psychic said, -Yeah, that's the place. You can never go back there. You came this close to taking something home with you,'" Leigh Whannell recalls. 'When I told James Wan that story, the first thing he said was, -God, that's going to make a great scene.' Immediately anytime anyone tells us a ghost story, we start trying to work it into a film or figure out how it could be a cool scene."
For James Wan, such experiences are the stuff of inspiration. 'There are too many stories like this to just blow it off," he says. 'I think that's part of the reason people find our films as effective as they do"because they come from a real place to begin with."
James Wan says he was surprised at the challenges making a worthy follow-up to Insidious presented, but it will be worth it if fans of the original respond positively. 'Sequels are usually very hard to do right. I hope the people that loved the first one come back and watch the second one and can see the love that went into making it"that we didn't just haphasardly throw it together"because we put a lot of thought into it. We just hope they really enjoy it."
Release Date: November 7th, 2013