Craig's First Take: "Insidious Chapter 2"

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The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world.
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You have to give director James Wan and writer Leigh Wannell credit. They’ve tried to make the “Insidious” series not just another couple of haunted house movies. Just look at the last half hour of the first film, an interestingly conceived notion of spirits who can travel into a deathly netherworld while the body remains prime real estate for any other soul looking to regain access to the living. Or “Insidious 2’s” insistence on an everything but the kitchen sink approach.

It’s thinly plotted. Josh (Patrick Wilson), the father from the first film, has been possessed by an evil old ghost whose been scoping his “real estate” since he was 10. It’s not long before the piano starts playing and the rocking horses are a-rockin all by themselves, or we start to wonder what’s in the closet, or the kids are in danger. Since the ghostly door from the first film has been opened, that leaves more ghosts to pop out of nowhere for some cheap scares.

Rose Byrne, playing Josh’s wife Renai, still looks more confused than she should be at this point but luckily grandma (Barbara Hershey) has a brain in her head and gets those goofy ghost hunters (Whannel, Angus Sampson) and another psychic (Steve Coulter) to take over the the deceased Elise (Lin Shaye) to start an investigation into creepy hospitals, houses, and so on.

I’ve reached a point where I’m immune to constant jump scares but “Insidious 2” has a campiness that I thought was ridiculously entertaining. Rolling dice meant to communicate with the dead, a backstory of a creepy motherly villain character (a chillingly effective Danielle Bisutti) who turns her son into a transvestite murderer, ghosts who can apparently time-travel, and the Patrick Wilson character going bat crazy a la Nicholson from “The Shining”. It’s stupid, which I doubt Wan, coming off his biggest success with “The Conjuring” and about to take over the “Fast and Furious” franchise, was going for but like I said, this stuff doesn’t usually work on me so I’ll take what I can get.