Note: I will post my Thor review later. 🙂
If you haven’t seen Insidious then just skip this whole review (and movie). The sequel continues right at the drop off from the first, and this is both a fairly bold move and a way to guarantee no new audience members. Sure, it does give enough backstory for you to understand what’s going on, but with no set-up of the characters you won’t really be invested in what happens to them. Obviously, this review contains spoilers for the first movie, so please, go watch it or skip it.
Our family has just gone through hell (or purgatory) and after Dad astral projected to fetch his son from the netherworld (I guess I’m not emotionally invested enough to remember their names), he clearly brought something back with him. With the flashback to his childhood haunting, it’s made clear that the old woman who used to haunt him now inhabits his body. With the medium dead, the grand-mother calls another medium, Carl, who uses dice to communicate with the dead in order to discover who the old lady is and how to stop her.
While Dad/Old Lady becomes increasingly homicidal, the family is still being haunted. It’s pretty clear the purgatory ghosts now know where they live. The film intercuts the Dad’s journey into full-crazy and the ghost hunters’ murder-mystery investigation into who the old lady is.
The first Insidious had some fairly creepy moments, but I was never full-on scared. Once we fell down the rabbit hole to purgatory, the film went from normal scary-movie to stylistic, Burton-esque surrealist scary. The design of the demon’s lair was fascinating and definitely evoked childhood scares, but it wasn’t genuinely creepy or scary. With this style firmly established, the sequel follows suit, but now we only have ghosts, no phantom-style demon.
And all the ghosts are… ghosts. Proper, white face, black eye-shadow, cackling laughter, sheet covered ghosts. I’m surprised they didn’t grab the chains from the first movie and had one of them drag them through the house. It is definitely interesting, but after a while you just wait for the punchline. And this movie has a lot of weirdly placed punchlines. One of the ghost hunter side-kicks has already been established as a sort of comic relief, and this continues. In one scene everyone is running away in a panic from a ghost, only our guy is knocked out cold, and the camera slowly pans to him lying face-down like a drunk. Cue laughter? I honestly don’t know. Oh, look, he’s eating a burrito while telling a grieving family about their haunted house. How awkwardly hilarious of him.
The bulk of the film is dedicated to the mystery of the old lady ghost, and the result is completely uninteresting. The characters of the son and father are what make the first worth watching. Instead of exploring their shared ability, the sequel is all over the place. It explores themes of childhood, trust, motherhood, and the nature of the dead, but without coherency. It all feels jumbled.
Then the ending arrives right on time, with complete predictability, and of course the teaser scene for the next one. The original’s ending had a sense of genuine terror and the audience feels that need for an explanation. So this sequel is justified. But it goes and slaps the first movie’s cleverness in the face, and runs away screaming “trilogy!”
No thank you. Dice roll: 2