In this second montage of jumpy frights from Saw duo James Wan (director) and Leigh Whannell (writer), an old dude with clairvoyant powers uses lettered dice cast to receive messages from the other side.
One is almost tempted to wonder if similar tactics were used to write the script, which largely reorders the same ghost/horror elements from the first picture via the completely spurious element of time travel.
This allows Lin Shaye’s medium Elise to return, first in the guise of her younger self (Lindsay Seim), and then as a spook wandering the same dimly lit demon netherworld to which Josh (Patrick Wilson) was consigned at the close of the first Insidious (2011). Together they plan his return to corporeal form, a strand that introduces a third genre into the mix: the escape movie. All Wan needs to do this time around is throw in a musical number and he’ll have the complete set.
To be fair, Insidious: Chapter 2 isn’t exactly the dog’s dinner the above implies. But it does presume we were paying particularly close attention to its stock situations and rote characters first time out (although ignoring the repetition), and that we’re deeply invested in seeing Josh flee the saga’s limbo-like zone ‘The Further’. Those are two fairly big asks, given that it’s the scaring, not the caring that we’ve come for.
You will jump, though most of the spooky stuff feels very second-hand: some rotting corpses, a few wrinkly ghouls in sheets and the same angry hacking through wooden partitions we had way back in… well, you can probably guess.
It’s Rose Byrne’s Renai who does most of the heavy lifting, being required to race around her mother-in-law’s (Barbara Hershey) house being goosed by baby monitors, walkers and other innocuous objects made sinister. Business as usual then, though there’s at least one encouraging development: geeky ghostbusters Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) are actually funny this time.
Poltergeist goes Back To The Future with only passable results in a film whose activity is more par for the course than paranormal.