Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Insidious: Chapter 2 is a So-So Frightfest

Plus, The Family favors brutal violence over satirical wit.

by | September 12, 2013 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a bedeviled family (Insidious: Chapter 2, starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) and some witnesses who need little protection (The Family, starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer). What do the critics have to say?

Insidious: Chapter 2


With Insidious and The Conjuring, director James Wan has moved away from his blood-soaked Saw roots toward a more atmospheric brand of horror. However, critics say Insidious: Chapter 2 is something of a step back; despite strong performances and a few effective scares, it’s decidedly short on the tension and surprises that made its predecessor so chilling. This time out, the Lamberts have moved to a new residence but continue to be haunted by a malevolent spirit. Could it be that it’s one of the family members, not the house, that’s possessed? The pundits say Insidious: Chapter 2 is better crafted and performed than your typical frightfest, but it’s too reliant on jump scares and backstory to fully captivate. (Read our interview with star Patrick Wilson here.)

The Family

With its distinguished cast and high concept premise, The Family looks like a can’t-miss proposition on paper. Unfortunately, critics say this fish-out-of-water action/comedy suffers from jarring tonal shifts and an overabundance of gratuitous violence. Robert De Niro stars as a mob snitch who’s been placed in the witness protection program. But when he and his family relocate to a village in France, they don’t keep a particularly low profile, and soon the mob is on their trail. The pundits say The Family boasts solid performances, but the actors can only do so much with a script that favors brutal violence over satirical wit. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down De Niro’s best-reviewed movies, and be sure to watch our video interviews with the cast.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Mother Of George, starring Danai Jekesai Gurira and Isaach De Bankolé in an impressionistic drama about a recently married woman who is under pressure to have a child, is at 100 percent.

  • Sample This, a documentary that recounts the strange history of the Incredible Bongo Band’s version of “Apache,” is at 100 percent.

  • The Saudi Arabian import Wadjda, a drama about a young suburban girl who tries to scrape together the money to buy a bicycle, is at 97 percent.

  • Blue Caprice, starring Isaiah Washington in a psychological thriller from the perspective of the perpetrators of the Beltway sniper attacks, is at 96 percent.

  • Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, a documentary portrait of the celebrated character actor, is at 93 percent.

  • Informant, a documentary about a far-left activist who became an FBI informer, is at 92 percent.

  • Mademoiselle C, , a behind-the-scenes look at fashion journalist Carine Roitfeld’s attempt to start a new magazine, is at 71 percent.

  • And While We Were Here, starring Kate Bosworth in a romantic drama about a lonely woman who meets a younger man while accompanying her husband on a trip to Naples, is at 58 percent.

  • GMO OMG, a doc that takes a skeptical view of genetically modified crops, is at 43 percent.

  • Jayne Mansfield’s Car, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Duvall in a culture clash comedy about two different families that gather for a funeral, is at 35 percent (check out Thornton’s Five Favorite Films here).

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