Insidious: Chapter 2 appears to be the sum of the unusable parts from James Wan's recent haunted house feature The Conjuring.
Yes, of course it's the sequel to 2010's Insidious, but it seems cobbled together from outtakes. And on the matter of the title, there's nothing remotely subtle or sly about this lazy movie (* out of four; rated R; opening Friday nationwide).
Coming well after the Saw movies, The Conjuring proved Wan is more than capable of making a truly frightening horror film centered on a creepy old home. But this reboot just seems to be going through the motions, hoping for undiscriminating and insatiable fans of the genre to lap it up.
On top of the movie's general incoherence, it induces Patrick Wilson fatigue as the second movie in less than two months to star Wilson as an off-putting father drawn to haunted houses. It's a strange niche to be typecast in.
With his all-American good looks, it's clear why Wan would cast Wilson as an incongruous subject for ghostly habitation. And Wilson seems as drawn to ghost stories as they are to him. That may be the spookiest thing about this movie.
The story itself is more laughable than chill-inducing.
Predictability lurks in every dusty nook of this sequel. It incorporates hackneyed tropes -pianos suddenly starting to play, children's toys coming to life, the sound of infant screams emanating from baby monitors and that creaky old staple, terrifying monsters lurking in the closet. Children are the targets, and a malevolent old hag is behind the mayhem. (The killer that does her evil bidding was once a tormented child.)
But despite its endless string of clichés, Insidious 2 is convoluted, illogical and unintentionally, stupidly funny.
Josh (Patrick Wilson) pops in and out of a parallel demonic spirit realm known as "The Further." His wife, Renai (Rose Byrne), spends most of the movie aghast and stricken. It's an understandable emotion - especially when she realizes what a stinker she'd signed up for. Spirits are plaguing her family. Rose and Josh's son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) has been overtaken and rendered comatose. Her husband initially saves him by going into "The Further," but pops out and may have gruesomely killed kindly ghost-buster Elise (Lin Shaye). Josh seems pretty unmoved by the woman's death. But then, no one seems particularly troubled by her passing - though if it weren't for her, Josh might never have grown up to get married and have kids. In any case, Josh has definitely brought back some sort of evil presence from his stint in the great beyond.
This time, Josh's mom Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) is around in a thankless role that mostly consists of hand-wringing.
The movie splits off and follows Lorraine and nerdy ghost-busters Specks (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Wilson is divided into ordinary dad Josh and pallid, demon-controlled Josh.
A medium uses lettered dice to spell out clues in a kind of diabolical Boggle word game.
Could that be the next Insidious spinoff?
Claudia Puig, USATODAY