Continuing directly from where 2010’s Insidious left off, Insidious: Chapter 2 follows the further misfortunes of the Lambert family with diminishing insidious rewards.
This time, schoolteacher dad Josh (Patrick Wilson), songwriter wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and their three kids relocate to the overstuffed Victorian home of Josh’s mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), where the sudden onset of fleeting apparitions, piano sounds and baby-monitor noises indicate that trouble has returned.
Clearly, Josh, who previously ventured into a supernatural realm called the Further (which resembles a big sound stage), has caught a bad case of demonic possession. Despite Josh’s glassy homicidal glare and tendency to transport himself abruptly into rooms, Renai is slow to recognize the problem.
Marginally more astute is Lorraine, who, once again, hires bumbling, unfunny ghostbusters Specs (writer Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), along with a new medium, the professorial-looking Carl (Steve Coulter).
Though complications are numerous (time travel, cross-dressing, the return of a character killed in the first movie), there’s a dearth of narrative coherence or fresh scares, as director James Wan and writer Whannell (creators of the Saw franchise) seem to have succumbed to sophomore sequel lethargy.
What’s left is for genre fans to pass their time checking off the filmmakers’ borrowings (Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist) while home-renovation buffs can ogle the bizarre clutter of Lorraine’s residence. There’s an idea here for a cross-genre TV reality show: This Old Evil House.