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'Insidious: Chapter 2': Bad Movie, Good Scares

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | September 13, 2013 | Comments ()


Insidious-2-trailer.jpg

Insidious: Chapter 2 is a bad movie, but not it’s without its charms. It’s an unusual horror sequel in that the two leads — Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne — actually returned for it, but considering that the first movie made nearly $100 million worldwide on a meager $1.5 million budget, I suspect those two actors finally wanted to be paid for the first movie’s success. The second installment, which picks up right where the first left off, is a decent, though insubstantial fall offering. It’s silly, inconsequential, often boring, and packed full of jump-scares and haunting images, which makes it an ideal date-night DVD/Netflix movie for those less interested in good storytelling, and more interested in peeing on the couch. In that respect, Insidious: Chapter 2 is a crowd pleaser.

When we last left off, Patrick Wilson’s character, Josh, had travelled into the spirit world to rescue his son from evil. While he was away, however, the psychic medium who had assisted Josh in getting into the spirit world, Elise Rainier (Lyn Shaye), had been murdered by the bad, bad spirits (there’s a police investigation into Elise’s murder that’s introduced and then completely abandoned ten minutes later). We find out immediately that Elise and Josh actually have a history together. When Josh was a boy, he had the ability to see into and communicate with that spirit world. Elise was brought in by Josh’s mother in 1986 to hypnotize Josh into repressing the memory of his ability to do so.

Fast forward to the present day, and Josh and his wife, Renai (Rose Byrne) have scooped up their kids and brought them to the house of Josh’s mother, where it all began. However, Josh isn’t quite what he seems, and the terrifying ghosts from the spirit world continue to spill into Josh’s home, assaulting the kids, throwing Renai across the room, and generally wreaking terror. Parents may find it doubly frightening, because the goddamn she-devil at the center of this installment keeps messing with the baby in the crib. NOT COOL.

Elise’s assistants from the first movie (Angus Sampson and Leigh Wannell, who also serves as screenwriter) come in to help out, along with Elise’s old assistant from the 1980s, Carl (Steve Coulter). Joining Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey), they communicate with Elise in the spirit world and investigate why Josh isn’t who he seems to be, why spirits continue to bleed into their world, and how to make it stop.

The plot itself is hokey, and frequently veers into incredibly cheesy territory involving a gender confused serial killer, the ghost of his mother, and a lot of walking around, both in the real world and the spirit world. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson provide serviceable performances, while the rest of the cast is fairly bad, but in an almost endearing kind of way (Sampson provides some decent comic relief, or at least tries to; the attempt is more appreciated than the actual execution).

Still, what made the first Insidious movie successful — James Wan’s creepy imagery and jump scares that will make you sh*t your pants — are in full effect in Insidious: Chapter 2, and they’re often more effective because they arrive just as the story lulls you to sleep. It does not make up for the fact that Insidious: Chapter 2 is a lousy movie, but it at least offers a compelling reason to latch onto your dates while you’re experiencing it.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • maydays

    Well, they're completely missing the target audience with this theater run. "Those less interested in good storytelling, and more interested in peeing on the couch" = my dog. He also reacts to sudden loud noises and strangers walking by our house, so I'm not sure why we haven't shown him horror films.

  • You know, I have been meaning to pee on my couch for quite some time.

  • Uriah_Creep

    So peeing on the couch is a crowd pleaser now? Oh, you kids nowadays!

  • Theron

    It was explained in the first movie that Elise and Josh had a history.

  • Robert

    It's even rarer for being a horror film sequel that had no interest in telling the continuing story of the leads. Over half the film is the mother and the psychic investigators hunting ghosts.

  • Theron

    What are you talking about? The continuing story of the leads is exactly what was being told. Everything came full circle. They weren't "hunting ghosts" they were trying to get answers from Elise on why the family is still being targeted.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I have no idea how (spoilers) Patrick Wilson straight-up murders a woman in his house, and attacks his wife as Evil Lady Wilson, or whatever - and the police are called, yet he seems to be in this movie.
    I understand it made a ton of money and sequels need to be made, but come on now, he needs to at least be on the run...

  • Robert

    It's explained very poorly in the movie and then dropped immediately. So much is so bad that you barely notice that the answer makes no sense if you saw the first movie.

  • Aidan Harr

    I feel like I'm taking crazy pills, 'cause I thought this movie was actually pretty great.

  • emmelemm

    The scariest thing is that they bothered to give Rose Bryne's character's name a "funky" spelling like Renai.

  • Kim Voeks

    This only way this movie could have been scary is if it had an IRS agent waiting for you in the hallway, threatening an audit. It was just laughably bad and not scary.

  • bastich

    I like the header pic.

    ("NO WIRE HANGERS!!!")

  • Finance_Nerd

    That's immediately came to mind for me also... great minds and all that

  • Fredo

    I fell asleep halfway through that plot recap. Honestly, horror and comedies are the easiest movies to design because they don't require complicated plots. Nice people get into situations. Bad things happen. Hilarity ensues.

    I get its a sequel, but perhaps it might have been easier to just reset the movie (a la American Horror Story) with the same cast but a new story?

  • Robert

    Horror can handle elaborate plotlines. It comes down to execution. Stick to slashers if you can't handle anything more complicated than "boo!"

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