Maybe you should ask about the strangled woman on the couch: “Insidious Chapter 2”

September 30, 2013


You know, it’s nice that James Wan has moved on from the Saw movies—having, apparently, run out of sharp, rusty objects to perforate people with—but he really needs to push himself more. Just as he squatted happily in the sickly-sallow fluorescent lighting of the Saw franchise for, like, 20 installments, Wan seems to be drinking the well dry of the PG-13-level shocks and smash-cuts and music cues he’s poured into his last three movies. When he did this with Insidious, it was an interesting departure from most everything he’d done before. With Insidious Chapter 2, however, we get the second Wan movie in about as many months to feature creaky, old farm houses, communicating with the spirit world, and Patrick Wilson. It’d feel derivative and disappointing even if the movie didn’t posit that, yeah, you can basically just punch ghosts in the face.

So, as you may recall, the first Insidious had the Lambert family grappling with a series of supernatural events that, in the end, were caused by a big, gay, demon. Okay, maybe the demon wasn’t outed as gay, but it sure as hell looked like Satan from South Park, so you can just prove to me he’s not. The demon was haunting the family because of their kid and Patrick Wilson who could astral project to the spirit world, or some such claptrap. There were also some mediums who wear World War I gas masks to communicate with the Other Side, and, as near as I can tell, we’re not supposed to find this bugnuts crazy.

Patrick Wilson after filming his sex scenes with Lena Dunham.

Patrick Wilson after filming his sex scenes with Lena Dunham.

Insidious Chapter 2 (can I just call this IC2? Yeah? Cool) begins immediately after the first film ends, with the lead medium dead, and something having come back from the spirit realm. Now, you’d think this would kickstart things, and yet…nope, the movie just sorta wobbles to a start like a drunken kangaroo. Amazingly, no one really breaks a sweat trying to solve The Mystery of the Medium that Was Strangled In Our Living Room. Instead, they just move in with Wilson’s mother—played by Barbara Hershey—and play house until some ghosts start screwing with them again. Rose Byrne—reprising her role as Renei Lambert—is rightfully upset by all this, but Wilson is all like, “Hey, babe, that dead woman is the past. We gotta look to the future.”

What we learn surprisingly early on is that a spirit actually came through and possessed Patrick Wilson, leaving the real Patrick Wilson stuck in the spirit world…which looks like a darkened room. EvilWilson’s corporal form is breaking down, and the spirit of his dead mother tells him he must kill the family in order to live. Which is nice, because almost no one remembers The Shining.

"All houses end up with strangled bodies in them."

“All houses end up with strangled bodies in them.”

Meanwhile, the surviving dopey mediums are playing Scooby Doo, trying to figure out who killed their leader (nice that someone is), and by using some Boggle dice (no, I’m not kidding) figure out that the spirit possessing EvilWilson is that of a serial killer who dressed up in a black wedding dress and makeup to kill his victims. I can only assume he wants back to the corporeal world because he got tired of being mocked by the other serial killers in hell.

One thing leads to another, and RealWilson is joined in in the World of Cheap Sets by a couple of the mediums, who help him get back into his body. It involves clocking the mama-spirit with a rocking horse. I just don’t know how to ridicule that any more than simply describing it.

At least the spirit realm has REI stores.

At least the spirit realm has plenty of REI stores.

As I said in my review of the first Insidious, once they start rattling off the Star Trek: The Next Generation-style explanations all the horror goes out of it. The bad news is that Insidious Chapter 2 is pretty much all about the mechanics of the supernatural, so it seems less like a horror movie than the darkest domestic thriller ever. On top of that it wants to be a supernatural mystery for people who don’t like to think too much. So, we get endless scenes of exposition as our, uh, heroes go from one improbably-spooky location to another and then tell the audience just why this piece of the puzzle makes sense. Spoiler alert: none of it makes sense.

Really, the less said about this character the better.

Really, the less said about this character the better.

For example, the key to the story lies in a couple scenes set in 1986 (which this movie seems to think took place in 1974, based upon the styles and technology), which sends these people off to both an abandoned hospital and house. So…yeah, I guess now we just leave abandoned buildings stand for 25 plus years and never demolish them to build condos or, say, explore them adequately enough to find a hidden room that contains dozens of corpses. Which have remained more or less preserved for almost three decades.

"What did you get for Halloween, Charlie Brown?"

“What did you get for Halloween, Charlie Brown?”

Oh yeah, and no one thinks to call the cops to report all the corpses they found. I mean, I guess if they’ve been there since the Reagan Administration a couple more days won’t hurt.

In the end…oh, screw it. I’d’ve preferred the big gay demon.


  1. Though they probably didn’t intend for it to happen, I laughed a whole hell of a lot. Nice review.

    • Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I guffawed a few times myself during that movie.

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