Insidious Chapter 2 picks up where its predecessor left off—in abject silliness. As before, director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell’s wannabe-scary story indulges in innumerable demonic-possession tropes before closing with a ridiculous finale set on an “astral plane” known as “The Further” where evil spirits lurk. That’s also where paterfamilias Josh (Patrick Wilson) finds his soul trapped at outset, leaving his earthly body to be controlled by a mommy phantom who likes to scare the rest of Josh’s family—including wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), the latter gifted with the ability to travel in his sleep to The Further—with loud jolt scares involving a noise-making baby walker. Two goofy mediums (Whannell and Angus Sampson) offer deliberate comic relief, but most of Chapter 2 is unintentionally hilarious. Characters routinely behave in absurd ways, none more so than a team of ghost-hunters nonchalantly rummaging around an abandoned hospital at night with flashlights and shaky-cams. Before a reunion with dead psychic Elise (Lin Shaye), the characters must first uncover the secret of their pesky—and, as Renai learns, slap-happy—specter, which is revealed in a finale that, like Wan’s The Conjuring, equally comprises classic horror clichés and mythological mumbo jumbo. Plus, there’s time travel, because why not?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 11, 2013