Well, the gang are all back for a second helping of manufactured lunacy in ‘Insidious: Chapter 2′: writer-director James Wan, screenwriter-supporting actor Leigh Whannell and, of course, the periled fictional family unit in the Lambert clan. As the sequel to 2010’s ‘Insidious’, the peek-a-boo plight of the Lamberts in ‘Insidious: Chapter 2′ is once again chronicled courtesy of mysterious apparitions, suspicious and ominous noises and other makeshift supernatural occurrences.
Routinely, ‘Insidious: Chapter 2′ tap dances to the tepid trappings of its conventional creepiness while never challenging the audience beyond the opportunistic reboot that lazily rehashes clichéd fodder such as haunted houses and jeopardized children. Wan, the morbid mastermind that engineered the ‘Saw’ movie series as well as this year’s ‘The Conjuring’, seems to be coasting on the fumes of his previous cinematic efforts. ‘Insidious: Chapter 2′ feels like a cluttered and pointless elaboration on its predecessor. Never quite as frightening, imaginative or coherent as its original blueprint, ‘Chapter 2′ simply marches on with its simplistic displays of synthetic jolts.
In ‘Insidious’, we encountered the problematic terror that plagued the Lamberts in their home when demon ghosts invaded the comatose condition of son Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Unfortunately for Dalton, he is stuck in the deadly dreamscape confines of ‘The Further’ and needs some serious on-the-spot rescuing. Despite the change of scenery’ this time around in ‘Chapter 2′, the Lamberts relocate to Lorraine’s (Barbara Hershey) crowded manse — mother of head of household in schoolteacher Josh (Patrick Wilson), those pesky and petrifying spirits refuse to go away and cling to the Lamberts like stink on an ailing skunk.
Thus Josh, wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and their three offspring cannot seem to catch an even break from the ghostly devils. After fleeing their haunted house, particularly in the aftermath of ghostbuster Elise’s (Lin Shaye) tragic demise, somehow Josh is all of the sudden acting quite bizarre and erratic. Strangely, Renai does not immediately notice anything odd about Josh’s strange behavior. Could Josh be affected by the ghostly inhabitations that overruled the misguided actions of his boy Dalton? The need for Josh to pop in and out of ‘The Further’ should pretty much sum up the answer to this inquiry, don’t you think? Clearly, Josh must rid the sinister stronghold that threatens Dalton and to a certain extent his own jeopardised fate.
In the meanwhile, the wacky happenings are at an all-time high under Lorraine’s frenzied roof. Pianos start to play music without the assistance of human hands. Baby monitors are picking up infant cries in spontaneous fashion. Inanimate objects weirdly come to life. Also, creepy-minded creatures are playing hide-and-seek in dark closets. These disturbing events motivate a concerned Lorraine to make some calls as she enlists the returning bumbling and stumbling assistance of ghostbusters Spec (screenwriter Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Accompanying the daffy duo and Lorraine is the credible presence of medium Carl (Steve Coulter).
‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ is so busy awkwardly borrowing its scare tactic influences (from ‘Poltergeist’ to ‘The Shining’) and overstuffing its proceedings with outlandish and convoluted goose-bump concepts that the film feels overwrought and unintentionally silly-minded. Wan’s follow-the-dots direction and Whannell’s tediously spotty script renders this deranged drama as woefully scattershot and disjointed.
Wilson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reactions as the befuddled Josh are needlessly long in the tooth. Byrne’s Renai has nothing to do particularly interesting but look clueless and exasperated at different stretches in the movie. Hershey’s throwaway turn as matriarch Lorraine feels rather dismissive especially when she is associated closely with the witless comic relief-coupling of Whannell and Sampson’s demon-hunting dimwits. Additionally, the ‘terrorising the tykes’ spin has a ‘been there, done that’ familiarity that registers with lingering indifference.
Revisiting Wan’s juiceless, nail-biting narrative may probably be the most ‘Insidious’-inspired move that he has carelessly made in the shadows of worthier creepfests that competently left a capable macabre mark.
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
1 hr. 45 mins.
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Steve Coulter and Leigh Whannell
Directed by: James Wan
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: Horror/Mystery & Suspense/Supernatural Thriller
Critic’s rating: ** stars (out of 4 stars)
(c) Frank Ochieng 2013