Hey, remember that time I saw Insidious years and years ago and kind of liked it but not all of it? I finally saw Insidious Chapter Two and, again, I kind of liked it but not all of it. Beware, there are spoilers in this review!
The movie starts off right after the first movie. So right after that Renai (Rose Byrne, yay!) is being interrogated about what the heck happened to Elise (Lin Shaye, yay!). Remember, Josh (Patrick Wilson) had his body taken over by the parasite and strangled Elise because she saw who was really inhabiting Josh when she took a picture of him. Otherwise, the family is back together and just wants to recover from what they’ve endured. And none of them know that Josh isn’t Josh.
They have their suspicions, though. Renai and Lorraine (Barbara Hershey, how did I not notice she was in these movies?) hear the piano playing and Renai sees things moving and sees an entity in white.
Dalton (Ty Simpkins) also heard his dad talking to someone who wasn’t there.
Josh keeps heartily insisting things are fine so Lorraine finally contacts Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell) again. They realize they really need help so they hold a séance to contact Elise, along with Carl (Steve Coulter), a protégé of Elise’s and a member of the team that helped conduct the 1986 investigation on Josh and his ghost problems.
Her ghost–or is it?–leads them to Our Lady of the Angels, the hospital where Lorraine worked when Josh was young. She remembers an incident with Parker Crane (Tom Fitzpatrick), an old man in the intensive care unit who tried to castrate himself, and then attacked Josh. They find his house and it’s a corpse-a-palooza!
Seriously, there are fifteen dead women just sitting under shrouds in the basement. Oh, and it wasn’t Elise at all leading them, it was “Mater Mortis,” the mother of death, also known as Parker Crane’s crazy screaming mother (Played by Danielle Bisutti.)
It turns out that Mater Mortis was raising her son, Parker, as a girl named Marilyn Crane (Hmmm, that sounds an awful lot like Marion Crane), after her husband left. I can not imagine why any man would leave her. The whole thing feels like a mix of Sleepaway Camp and Psycho. Although, to be honest, both of those movies did it better and I never really wanted a Sleepaway Camp/Psycho smoothie.
Anyway, they find a whole bunch of press clippings about a killer dubbed the “Bride in Black.”
So, that’s the back story on the hideous old woman from Insidious. She haunted Josh until young Elise (Lindsay Seim, who does a really good job) teaches Josh how to forget his astral projecting abilities. Now, Josh’s body is possessed by Parker and the Lady in White is Momma Crane. That felt so much more convoluted than it had to be. Phew!
This all leads to Tucker, Specs, Lorraine, and Carl coming up with a plan to get Josh unconscious and get the right soul into the right body, like it’s some kind of wacky comedy of errors and misplaced souls. This goes swimmingly until Josh gets his Jack Torrance on, leaving Renai, Dalton and Foster trapped in the basement. Dalton volunteers to get Josh’s soul back from the Further. He succeeds, with the help of Elise. He also brings back Carl, so it’s kind of like a free gift with purchase.
This movie had a lot happening, some of it I liked and some of it I didn’t like. I mean, I like pickles and I like chocolate milkshakes but I don’t really want them mixed together.
I liked the music, as usual. The strings were good and creepy. I liked that we saw less tableaux in the Further and more emptiness, which I think is a lot creepier than people in ghoul makeup. There weren’t as many James Wan Jump Scares in this, which is good. At its heart, it feels almost like a Richard Matheson story. It’s really about mothers fighting to get their sons back and father-son relationships. You can compare the love Lorraine has for Josh and Renai has for Dalton with the utter lack of love that Mater Mortis has for Parker (Of course his character is so poorly developed that you really feel nothing for him, unlike Norman Bates or Angela, characters I actually have sympathy for.)
Now, the bad. This movie was an hour-and-forty-five minutes and I felt every minute of it. I wish there was no back story about Parker Crane. It’s unnecessary. Malevolent things feel more malevolent when there’s no explanation. Would you be scared of Pazuzu/Captain Howdy if you found out it had a bad demon childhood? It attacks Regan in The Exoricst and it isn’t right, it isn’t fair, and there’s no real explanation why except when Father Merrin says, “I think the point is to make us despair.” Pointless evil is scary because if it’s pointless then it could happen to anyone.
I could truly love this movie if it were more about Josh’s attempts to get home and we saw more from his point of view in the Further. The Parker Crane back story makes the movie feel like a pastiche of better films and drags down the story. It definitely has its moments of cool spookiness but they’re few and far between an overburdened plot.