I’m walking through the hallway of an abandoned hospital. The weatherworn walls covered in stains I’d rather not think about. I pass a threshold and suddenly I’m standing in what could almost pass as a fully functional hospital lobby if it weren’t completely empty. I walk a little further, past the occasional gurney or IV stand, and then I’m standing in a living room with only two walls. I know this room. I watched someone die in this room. It’s March 2013 and I’m at the Linda Vista Hospital visiting the set of Insidious: Chapter 2. I’m standing in a replica of the living room from the Lambert’s second home, the room where the finale of the first film takes place, and as a fan, it’s pretty freaking cool.
Insidious was one of those rare films that took me by surprise. With the first two acts firmly rooted in the classic structure of ghost story narrative, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell delivered some of the most finely crafted scares in recent memory. Then the third act delivered a bold and wonderfully weird finale that put an entirely unique spin on the haunted house subgenre. It was a move that divided audiences, and it certainly gave me pause, but it also allowed for the creation of a universe and mythology with plenty of room to explore. So I was totally on board when they announced a sequel and super excited at the opportunity to visit the set and get a glimpse at what’s in store. Insidious: Chapter 2 stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Jocelin Donahue, and Ty Simpkins. Hit the jump for more on the visit.
When we first arrived we were given the opportunity to take a look at some props from the first film. One of my favorite elements of Insidious was the tech-meets-tradition aesthetic of the gasmask séance. It was pretty cool to see Specs and Tucker’s ghost-hunting gadgets up close and get a look at the detail that went into their construction. Before too long, the production designerJennifer Spence took us on a tour of the set. As I mentioned in the intro, they didn’t just use Linda Vista as a hospital set, but also built replicas of rooms from the first film for flashback scenes. We also visited the medical records room (all the records are real, the hospital just left them when they closed down), a hospital nursery dressed to look operational, and we even got a peek at what the Further looks like with the lights on. After touring the set we got to watch a brief bit of filming on a monitor. We saw multiple takes of a very short dialogue scene between Lorraine, Specs, and Tucker. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very action-packed moment, but I did get to watch Barbara Hershey say “He tried to castrate himself” eight times in a row. You don’t see that every day. So yeah, someone, at some point in the mythology of Chapter 2 attempts a self-castration. Yikes. When it was time for a break in filming we sat down with the cast and crew for a press conference, and while everyone was pretty tight-lipped on plot details, we learned a bit about what fans can expect from the sequel.
- James Wan says Insidious: Chapter 2 could be his last horror film.
- The entire cast from the first film was brought back for the sequel.
- Chapter 2 picks up right where the first film left off. They consider it a continuation of the same story, which is why it’s calledInsidious: Chapter 2, instead of “Insidious II”.
- With the film picking up from such a climactic moment and high point of drama, the stakes are instantly raised and everybody agreed the tension is a lot higher throughout the entire film.
- Barbara Hershey said Elise’s death “is like the elephant in the room that permeates every scene of this film.”
- Lin Shaye gave a scene-stealing performance in the first film as Elise and, despite her climactic third act demise, fans should be happy to know that we will see her story continue in the Further.
- Wan said that he and Whannell always had a second storyline for Insidious if the first film did well.
- They had a little bit more shooting time and budget this time around, but not much. The first film had a 21 day shoot, this time they had 26 days. I visited on day 24/26. Wan says Chapter 2 was shot in the same “indie spirit” as the first film.
- Since Chapter 2 continues the story of the Lambert family, don’t expect the traditional ghost story structure where the family slowly realizes they’re being haunted. Since the Lamberts would immediately know what’s going on, Whannell and Wan had come up with something entirely new to scare the family. Something that Whannell said, “Almost takes it into a different genre.”
- Shaye described the film as “almost a murder-mystery”.
- With the rules of the Insidious universe established in the first film, Whannell and Wan were excited to explore the more outlandish concepts from the first film like the Further.
- With Elise stuck in the Further the Lamberts will be seeking help from one of her friends, a fellow psychic named Carl, played by Steve Coulter.
- Shaye said she is excited to investigate how Elise in the Further might be different than the Elise we knew in the first film.
- Though they will remain supporting characters, expect to see some new gadgetry from Specs and Tucker.
- Producer Jason Blum originally wanted to cut Specs and Tucker out of Insidious until test screening audiences loved the characters.
- Patrick Wilson will be doing double duty, playing two versions of his character: the Josh that is possessed in the normal world, and the Josh that is stuck in the Further.
- The Further is actually a rather small room completely blacked out with a fabric called Duvatyne and filled with smoke.
- Some sets from the first film, including Callie’s nursery and the living room of the Lamberts’ second home, were rebuilt inside Linda Vista to allow for flashback scenes.
- Some of the film will take place in the past, exploring the stories from Josh’s childhood hinted at in the first film. We will be seeing younger versions of Lorraine and Elise played by Jocelin Donahue and Lindsay Seim, respectively.
- Part of the story involves Lorraine’s time as a nurse in the 80’s, hence the hospital setting.
- While our set visit took place at Linda Vista Hospital, only a few days of shooting took place there. The bulk of the film was shot at a house in Highland Park.
- Linda Vista Hospital has been a popular destination for filmmakers since it closed for business in 1991. Some of the other projects shot there include Pearl Harbor, End of Days, True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dexter. Insidious: Chapter 2will be one of the last projects filmed on the property as it is being converted to low-income senior housing next year.
- Scenes from both the past and the present will take place in the hospital. The set was constructed with identical layouts on two floors; one made to look clean and operational for flashbacks, one aged and tattered for present day scenes.
- Whannell and his wife went Ghost Hunting at Linda Vista prior to the start of Chapter 2. Thought they did not see anything, when she saw a psychic soon after he asked her if she had been to a hospital recently. When she told him about their, he told her she was almost possessed and could never return to Linda Vista.
- According to Whannell, the script from the first film used up the reservoir of scare set-pieces that he had built up with Wan over the years, but he thinks they came up with some new scares that will rival the first film.
Final Thoughts: I am a fan of what they’re doing at Blumhouse Pictures. They secure impressive creative talent and keep the costs low enough to let said talent do their thing. Whannell and Wan delivered a hell of a ride on the first film, and from what I saw on set it looks like the sequel is going to offer its own set of crazy thrills. Mark me down as excited.