After a flashback to Josh Lambert’s (Patrick Wilson) haunted childhood, Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up right where the first left off – though I did not realize that until reading a summary as I have not seen the first in what promises to be a trilogy (at least). Josh has just successfully gone into “The Further” to bring his son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) back into the land of the living and out of his comatose state. In the process, however, Elise (Lin Shaye) – who is the Lorraine Warren of Insidious – is killed. The prime suspect? Josh. Though Josh may not be Josh anymore. Dun, dun, dun.
When strange and malicious things continue happening, following the family wherever they go, Renai (Rose Byrn) realizes that their troubles are not over. As the story goes deeper, she uncovers the frightening details about her husband’s past and who he is (or isn’t) today.
Though a few somewhat confusing parts of the movie made much more sense once I read through the synopsis of the first, for the most part it is not necessary to have seen chapter one. The story is set up clearly enough, and feels somewhat self contained despite technically being the middle of a larger tale. That’s not to say it makes sense – and I only partially blame my lack of backstory. It doesn’t help that Patrick Wilson starred in The Conjuring as well as famed paranormal investigator, Ed Warren. Who is married to Lorraine. Here, he is the victim, whose mother (Barbara Hershey) happens to be named Ellaine. It also doesn’t help that Hershey and Byrn look similar enough that I ended up getting the two mixed up on at least one occasion.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is a meandering amalgamation of ridiculous plot twists. It jams just about every stereotypical horror trope into an hour and 45 minutes. Creepy possessed guy? Check. Children seeing ghosts? Check. The mirror shot, the ghost walking behind their back, the evil sounds from the baby monitor? Yep. Doors creaking open loudly? I wish I had been counting the number of times that happened. The whole thing is so completely ridiculous that even the jump scares lose almost all impact. And once you realize the motivations behind these evil apparitions – well, it’s so laughable that I couldn’t take much of the film seriously any longer.
Bumbling paranormal investigators Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) are back as comic relief. I assume the first one was scary enough that they were needed. Here they just add to the ridiculousness, despite being one of the better parts of the film.
I have to believe that James Wan was going for “so bad it’s good,” because I’ve seen what he can do with The Conjuring, which was excellent. If that’s what he was going for, he missed the mark. If that’s not what he was going for, he’s not even in the same room as the target. The audience was laughing the whole time, and not the nervous laughter of having been terrified by the film moments before. This was “this is so ridiculous, I have to laugh because I don’t know what else to do,” laughter.
There are a few parts where some sort of better film shines through – a really creepy shot (usually of Wilson), a clever plot twist, some good acting – but those moments are very few with miles between. The rest of the film is a cheap incoherent mess that you will spend too much effort being baffled by to be frightened.
Mrs. Hamster did not attend this screening.
My Rating: One out of Five Hats
Insidious: Chapter 2 haunts 3,049 theaters, (Friday) September 13