There’s so much wrong with this movie that any potential viewers out there need to go in to it expecting to laugh. I had the great fortune of getting to watch this cinematic flat-line with dear friends in a near empty theatre; and I suggest you do the same, because it will quickly foster within you the desire to crack jokes and mockingly provide the internal dialogue of each confused character. No amount of Patrick Wilson’s chiseled features can possibly make up for how bad the screenwriters treated this sequel.
Let me be clear. I didn’t expect gold from this feature. Despite the fact that I really enjoyed what James Wan did with The Conjuring, I already felt like the first Insidious movie barely compensated for its own problems. The last ten minutes of the first installment are pretty much the perfect set up for Insidious 2, in all of its random glory. That ending scene with Josh (Patrick Wilson) cavorting about the ghost dimension, stumbling past the poorly costumed, powder faced dead to find his son, is pretty much a mirror image of the meatiest scenes of the sequel. Basically, this movie picks up where that left off. We find out that the medium, Elise, died as a result of the astral projection, and that Josh is being blamed for the death. It doesn’t take long before strange things start happening to Josh and his family once again, even though they’ve returned their son to consciousness, and moved home to Josh’s mother’s house. Pianos start playing themselves, and the worlds loudest baby walker screams through the formal room, to which Renai (Rose Lambert) meanders about, slack-jawed, rather than taking immediate action. It doesn’t take long for horror lovers to see where this is going when Josh doesn’t recognize the tune that the piano played, a song that Rose wrote for him. Cue another half hour of senseless exposition. We have some flashbacks to Josh’s childhood, scenes of the paranormal investigators mourning and tracing the footsteps of Elise, and most importantly we meet one of Elise’s past assistants, Carl, and Carl’s fake goatee. I will admit, one of the few cool things about this movie is that Carl performs divination through the use of lettered dice. Table top gamers are sure to love his character. Okay, so back to what’s wrong with the story. For some reason, the ghost of the mother of the man who has possessed Josh (right?), is terrorizing the family by wearing black lipstick and sitting in chairs around the house. At one point she also makes their baby disappear, and we actually never see the baby again, nor do they mention wanting the baby back. The infant just mysteriously returns another three quarters into the picture. Mother dearest enjoys screaming nonsensical dialogue, and threatening Carl and the paranormal investigation team, despite the fact that it’s her son who’s possessing Josh. Oh, did I mention that the son is a cross-dressing murderer who Josh met as a little boy? Yeah, get ready for that.
Most atrocious though, much like the first film, is the ending of this movie. Once again, Josh is in the ethereal world of the dead. Or, I suppose I should say that he’s still there, since he’s been trapped all along. This time Carl comes in to help him, because he is somehow magically able to travel into the world of the dead because he gets knocked over the head by Dead Ringer Josh, even though there was never any evidence to suggest that Carl has the same special gift for inter-dimensional travel that Josh does. Anyway, there’s Carl, and Josh’s stupid son, and Elise, and for some reason a naked old man who’s probably billed as “naked old man who points,” because that’s what he does. Their job is to destroy the memory of mother dear so that sir drag queen geriatric can be freed from Josh’s body. I refuse to tell you how they manage to put a stop to her craziness, because it’s just a special sight to behold. I know I’m painting a bad picture, but this ending is just too absurd to be true, and you have to see it for yourself. At any rate, I will reveal that apparently inter-dimensional travel also allows for time travel, based on the logic of Insidious 2. Now you see what I mean when I say you should prepare to watch this movie with a light heart?
For everything that’s gloriously wrong with Insidious 2, including the vampire ghost, there are a few things that are done well. The atmosphere is pretty good over all. The set design was nice, and the light was appropriate. Rather than resorting to jump scares and cutaways, Wan did keep it on point with soft lighting that allowed the heebie-jeebies to slowly creep upon viewers. Also, whoever did the old age makeup on Patrick Wilson did a top notch job. The same face was still under the makeup, but the actor genuinely looked older, and didn’t have that leathery look that’s so common to bad aging prosthetic jobs. There were some minor amusing details too, like seeing a picture James Wan with the bumbling sidekicks on their desktop wallpaper. Those bumbling sidekicks also had a couple of truly funny scenes. And luckily, spiky Darth Maul did not reprise his role as the extraordinarily confusing villain among a sea of bland ghosts. Overall, this movie is great for exactly one thing: poking fun.