This is Nothing Like Being Dead. I Know.
When I saw the movie that preceded today’s movie, I remember it building so much tension that I was constantly checking behind me in the movie theater. Not because I thought there might be ghosts or demons behind me, but because I was so on edge that if any person in the theater decided to be a jerk and poke me, I would probably piss myself. And then murder him to death to avoid my embarrassment being exposed. When I saw they were making a sequel, I was confused. The movie didn’t really seem to need a sequel, nor did the movie seem to leave itself open to a logical jump to one. But I liked the original, so I decided to give it a shot. Today I’m reviewing Insidious: Chapter 2, written by Leigh Whannell, directed by James Wan, and starring Patrick Wilson, Garrett Ryan, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Lindsay Seim, Danielle Bisutti, Tom Fitzpatrick, Tyler Griffin, Barbara Hershey, Jocelin Donahue, Steve Coulter, Hank Harris, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, and Michael Beach.
Medium Elise Ranier (Lin Shaye) lies dead, strangled to death by a malevolent spirit inhabiting the body of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). Still no status update on Small or Large Elise. …Thank you. No one is able to prove that he did it, but his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) is suspicious. And with Elise dead, she has no one to turn to until she meets another medium named Carl (Steve Coulter) who has worked with Elise before when they made Josh forget about his ability to leave his body while he slept. He uses Yahtzee to communicate with spirits and gets information from Elise’s spirit about where to go to figure out what’s happening to Josh before something happens to him or his family.
I liked this movie, but I didn’t find it nearly as effective as the previous movie. I base that almost entirely on the fact that I wasn’t suspicious of random strangers sneaking up on me and using my delicate state against me. It didn’t build the suspense nearly as successfully as the first movie, but it still did a pretty good job. I had some problems with the story, but it worked altogether. One main problem I had was that they let Josh go home. First, he was suspected of murdering Elise. Even if they didn’t have the forensics back yet, do they let suspected murderers return home to potentially murder his family and some more people while they wait for the lab to get back to them? And going off of that, how does forensics NOT make Josh as the murderer when he strangled this old woman to death with his bare hands? Being inhabited by an evil spirit might be a convenient excuse, but it doesn’t explain how your fingerprints have changed. I mean, I was wondering how they would rectify the problem of wanting to keep Patrick Wilson involved in the movie even though he murdered someone at the end of the last movie, but that explanation seems to strain credulity. I do understand Josh trying to make Renai stop thinking about the ghosts, but I don’t understand how he can had not even finished his sentence about ignoring them before going downstairs to investigate some noises. It also doesn’t really make sense that someone would grab a baseball bat to confront a ghost. And if you’ve already determined that it’s Josh that’s haunted and not the house, how is there ever a scenario that you would leave him alone with the kids? But there were definitely some interesting things that happened in the story of the movie. I like how they tied in the events of this movie with the events of the first movie, and I also liked the reveal about the identity of the Black Bride.
The ghost stuff didn’t always work for me too. When the haunting started, the first thing the movie used with the intention to scare us was the fact that the piano was playing with no one in the room. That COULD indicate that there’s a ghost in there … it could also indicate that it’s a Player Piano. You’re going to need to explain to us that it’s not capable of playing by itself without spirits before I jump to that conclusion. I did appreciate that they were able to get started with the ghosts stuff because they had already gone through the explanation and stuff in the first movie, allowing them to dive right in for this movie. Paranormal Activity never does that. Each movie starts with the ghost being as shy as he was in the first movie, playing annoying tricks until he eventually gets up the nerves to snap someone in half. Of course, it was a little overt for the ghost to jump right into showing Rose Byrne how strong her pimp hand was. Most ghosts do more frightening to build up energy so that they can move a penny up a wall, not just diving right into Ike Turner mode. And then the movie turns into an episode of Ghost Adventures when they arrive at the hospital because most of the movie is seen through their handheld cameras. I half expected them to run into Zak, Nick, and Aaron. Of course, the Ghost Adventures Crew don’t get anywhere near this lucky with their investigations, so that worked in favor of the movie.
The cast all did a great job. Patrick Wilson got to be pretty versatile in the movie since it seemed he was occupied by two different people. But he was very successful at playing a normal (albeit a bit on edge) guy, and then a somewhat crazy guy. But someone should probably tell him that, if he wants to have his “Here’s Johnny!” moment, a baseball bat is a pretty clumsy way to accomplish that. Barbara Hershey’s character annoyed me at one point. Why the hell would you take your young son into a room with a patient that had just castrated himself, thus indicating a potential flaw in his mental stability? And what’s more, would you even be able to? It seems like nurses might have rules against such things. I found Ty Simpkins annoying through most of the movie, but I can’t tell if that was him or just my natural hatred of most children. Either way, I got on board with him again when he clocked someone with a baseball bat. That was badass, little dude. Kind of lost me again shortly afterwards when he somehow fell asleep at will. Maybe that’s just jealousy. I can never fall asleep that quickly! I’m sure it’s what she was going for, but Danielle Bisutti was a little over the top as the Mother of Parker Crane. She reminded me of Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, except that wire hangers were exchanged for her kid’s gender and name. But I’ll give her a pass since she was supposed to be portraying someone that was insane.
Insidious: Chapter 2 is a solid movie that couldn’t reach the high bar set by its predecessor. The story was alright and even did some cool and innovative things, and the performances were strong, but they did not build nearly as much tension as the first movie and thus couldn’t keep me on edge. It’s good, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check it out in theaters, but you could also wait for a rental. Insidious: Chapter 2 gets “In my line of work things tend to happen when it gets dark” out of “Look what you did!”
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