"Is there something wrong with Daddy?" young Dalton ask his mom in a worried tone. She tells him no, pointing out that the family's recent struggles have just taken a lot out of dear ol' Dad.
But we know better, don't we?
We know that Dalton's father, Josh Lambert, is more than just a little tuckered. And that the recent horror was more than just a little family struggle. Josh, we know, went off to rescue Dalton from the eerie spiritual netherworld called The Further … and since they've been back nothing's been quite the same.
Hmmm. Maybe something came back with them. In him. Maybe that's why Josh is starting to look sick. Maybe that's why he stands feverishly whispering to himself in the hallway and starts yanking teeth out of his mouth with his fingertips. Maybe that's why the piano is playing on its own, and doors are slamming, and Dalton is seeing a shriveled corpse-like girl leap out of his closet.
But we know there are no maybes about it. Of course the worst is always true. This is an Insidious sequel after all.
For all of its illogic, twisted and tainted spirituality, and irrational character choices, Insidious: Chapter 2 does seem to make the point that love and family unity can overcome just about anything. On both the physical and spiritual planes, family members put their lives and existence on the line to protect and save one another.
Ghost hunters Specs and Tucker, and a psychic, Carl, all put themselves in danger to help the Lambert family as well.
Like Insidious before it, Chapter 2 centers around the existence of a dark spiritual netherworld of tormented spirits called The Further. Josh and Dalton are both able to travel to this spectral plane through astral projection, a spirit-transportation ability they share.
The tortured souls of this realm, meanwhile, long to somehow scrabble their way back to the world of the living through any means possible. We see some of them reach through the membrane between the spiritual and physical world in invisible object-moving ways (slamming doors, jockeying rocking horses, causing chandeliers to fall, etc.) and sometimes in more solid, hand-through-a-wall, face-in-a-window corporeal ways.
We find out early on that Josh's body is possessed by one of those evil entities … while his own soul is somehow trapped in The Further. "Your dead soul is killing his living skin," a disembodied voice tells the entity within Josh. It also reports that the only way that the "possessed" Josh can continue to survive is if he kills the rest of the Lambert family members.
What to do, what to do. Well, in the world of Insidious, fighting back involves ghost hunters, psychics, séances, spectral interventions and demonic battles. Elise, the psychic who helped Josh rescue his son in the first film but died in the end, shows up in The Further to aid the ethereal Josh. Carl, the new psychic helping the Lambert family, sets up a séance and works to connect with spirits of the dead through a handful of dice sporting letters and symbols. (One of the clues the dice reveal lead Carl and the others to a decayed Catholic hospital called Our Lady of Angels.)
We see Renai in a formfitting T-shirt that she wears with pajama bottoms to bed. A domineering mother dresses her adolescent son in a dress, insisting that he's a girl.
We see a demon with bloody teeth, someone being stabbed with a needle, and raw bruises on a dead woman's throat. Men and women are roughly slammed into doors and walls, and thrown to the floor. A man is battered with a large wrench. Josh reaches into his own mouth and extracts a bloody tooth. A young boy and a woman are both forcefully slapped across the face as their attacker screams with rage. A chandelier crashes to the floor, barely missing a woman standing beneath it. A man is stunned with a Taser-like device.
The ghost hunters push back a false wall revealing a room filled with over a dozen murdered victims all covered with blood-splotched sheets and in an advanced state of decay. We see the blades and saws that were used in their torture on a nearby table. A man viciously slams a woman around, then moves to choke her to death before being hit in the head by a boy with a baseball bat. A man draws back to crush a boy's head with a hammer, but is stopped. We're told that an elderly hospitalized man attempted to castrate himself and later threw himself off the top of a building.
Crude or Profane Language
Two or three s-words join three or four uses of "h‑‑‑" and one of "b‑‑ch." Jesus' name is misused two or three times; God's is combined with "d‑‑n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Tucker hands Carl a hypodermic needle full of tranquilizer to use in case of an emergency. Later, Tucker is injected with that same drug.
Other Negative Elements
We've all learned the hard way over the years that just because something's a sequel doesn't mean it has to make sense or mesh well with the material that came before. The first Insidious ended with a reveal that husband Josh is possessed by an evil and deadly female spirit. That should be a relationship ender. But here in Chapter 2, it's something of a marginal fact that doesn't seem to impact wife Renai in the ways you might expect.
Nope, she doesn't grab the children and take the next bus to anywhere-other-than-here. Rather, Renai sticks around and wonders yet again why creaking doors keep slamming on their own and why the kids keep screaming in the night. So we merely traverse a lot of the same creaking floorboards territory already splintered by the first flick.
I guess I could say it's a plus that Saw director James Wan manages to get this effort in under the PG-13 wire. But cluttered under that wire are fetid ghosties, ghost-hunter clownishness, spiritual plane-jumping, demon possessions and séances. Oh, and a room full of corpses too.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert; Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert; Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert; Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert; Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier; Leigh Whannell as Specs; Angus Sampson as Tucker
James Wan (The Conjuring, Insidious, Death Sentence, Dead Silence, Saw)
September 13, 2013
Bob Hoose Bob Hoose