Question: is it too early to market something as "from the director of The Conjuring"? Probably not, and Chapter 2 has to be considered a major win if it makes even half of The Conjuring's haul. Another question: why in the hell wasn't Insidious Chapter 2 held for Halloween? No Saw or Paranormal Activity movies are coming out for the first time in a decade, and this seems like the perfect time for Wan to recapture his first series' old October dominance. (Indeed, after this, only a misbegotten remake of Carrie remains as far as wide-release horror.) But maybe Wan is too busy prepping Fast and Furious 7 (due out NEXT SUMMER!) to lobby studios about when to release the lucrative horror movies he seems ready to set aside. Insidious Chapter 2 more or less approximates the level of craft of Wan's other recent haunted-house movies, but despite some cleverness in the story's expansion, it does feel a bit more like maintenance than a fully committed job. Insidious Chapter 3 seems all but assured; Wan's participation no longer does.
So I guess he works plenty, but The Family is his first movie to garner a wide US release since that first Arthur movie flopped out in 2006 (and that was his first big-ish movie in seven years). Headliners Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones make this look like yet another permutation of the classic-oldsters-kicking-ass formula—the kind of thing De Niro can and will do in his sleep, and will in fact do two more times before the year is up with Last Vegas and Grudge Match. Then again, in the endless recombinations of older actors who somehow haven't worked together yet, De Niro-Pfeiffer-Jones seems like a good one, and maybe Besson's still got some of his tony-trashy sensibility left. I recently rewatched The Fifth Element, and it's such a crazy mix of the inventive and the nonsensical (Besson reportedly first had the idea as a teenager, and this makes a wonderful amount of sense in the final film)—a spectacular collision of European and Hollywood sensibilities. If Besson engineers another one of those culture smashes, even on a smaller scale, I'll be simultaneously delighted and kind of suspect of myself for being delighted.