'Insidious 2' shuns scares for laughs
More silly than its sinister predecessor, “Insidious: Chapter 2” is entertaining for the contortions the script makes to incorporate both a brief prequel and highlights from the first film into a new 105-minute package.
This is a Mobius strip of a movie, looping in on itself with ghosts from “The Further” and parallel existences interwoven into the lives of the lost Lamberts of sunny Somewhere, Calif.
Those “Saw”/“Insidious” guys James Wan (director) and Leigh Whannell (co-writer, co-star) throw their pretty good cast — Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey — into a follow-up to the “Poltergeist”-ish tale of the gutsy, long-haunted dad, Josh (Wilson), who goes “to the other side” to fetch his kidnapped boy (Ty Simpkins) from the demonic spirit that snatched him. And if the result isn't nearly as hair-raising as the first film, at least they've set the table for more sequels, spinoffs — a sort of “Lone Gunmen” TV series, even.
A 10-minute prologue tells us of how younger Josh was first visited by a spirit, and first “treated” by ghost-buster Elise (Lindsay Seim as a younger version of Lin Shaye's character). Back in the present, adult Josh and wife Renai (Byrne) have fled to grandma's house after the harrowing events of “Insidious,” which ended with Elise dead.
Renai doesn't know for sure that Josh didn't kill the medium, and neither do the cops. It doesn't help that Josh has a faintly demonic bent to his denials about the spooky apparitions, a piano that plays by itself, etc.
“You have to relax,” he purrs. “Ignore them and they will go away.”
Of course, “they” don't. That's when granny Lorraine (Hershey) summons Elise's old partner (Steve Coulter), along with her younger ghost hunters, Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson).
Then, the joking begins. In white shirts and black ties, the ghost hunters have everything but the sunglasses and sportcoats of the “Men in Black.” They're credulous when all around them are incredulous.
That's the sly comfort in this “feel-good” horror franchise. Out there, in the Yellow Pages, there are “experts” who can help you deal with the supernatural. And even after death, a good ghost hunter is still on the clock.
The techno-props — ranging from baby monitors, to old found video, to tin-can telephones — convey the ghostly voices from beyond.
“Chapter 2” isn't as clever as the screenwriters seem to think, and the movie isn't remotely as scary as the film it is following. But that's not to say that it isn't entertaining, on some level.
Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Review: ‘Poltergeist’ solid remake of haunted house classic
- Review: ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ a period-piece love quadrangle
- Going inside Big Bird, a film takes wing with Caroll Spinney
- Action, comedy, horror — Summer should be hot at the multiplex
- DVD reviews: ‘American Sniper,’ ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Series’
- Review: ‘I Am Big Bird’ a gentle peek at the guy behind the yellow feathers
- Review: Amazing Randi pulls back the curtain in ‘An Honest Liar’
- Review: New doc puts own ‘Lambert & Stamp’ on Who history
- Review: Tomorrow isn’t what it used to be in ‘Tomorrowland’
- A&E notebook: Locally filmed ‘Captain Z’ coming to DVD, On Demand