More silly than its sinister predecessor, Insidious: Chapter 2 is entertaining for the contortions the script makes to incorporate a brief prequel and highlights from the first film into a new 105-minute package.
It loops in on itself with ghosts from parallel existences interwoven into the lives of the lost Lamberts of sunny Somewhere, Calif.
Those Saw / Insidious guys James Wan (director) and Leigh Whannell (co-writer, co-star) throw their pretty good cast Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey into a follow-up to the Poltergeist-ish tale of the gutsy, long-haunted dad, Josh (Wilson), who goes to the other side to fetch his kidnapped boy (Ty Simpkins).
And if the result isnt nearly as hair-raising as the first film, at least theyve set the table for more sequels, spinoffs a sort of Lone Gunmen TV series, even.
A prologue tells us of how younger Josh was visited by a spirit, and treated by ghost buster Elise (Lindsay Seim as a younger version of Lin Shayes character). In the present, adult Josh and wife Renai (Byrne) have fled to grandmas house after the harrowing events of Insidious, which ended with Elise dead.
Renai doesnt know for sure that Josh didnt kill the medium, and neither do the cops.
Then the joking begins. In white shirts and black ties, the ghost hunters have everything but the sunglasses and sports coats of the Men in Black. Theyre credulous when all around them are incredulous.
Thats the sly comfort in this feel-good horror franchise. Out there, in the Yellow Pages, there are experts who can help you with the supernatural. Even after death, a good ghost hunter is still on the clock.
But Chapter 2 isnt as clever as the screenwriters think, and the movie isnt remotely as scary as the first. But thats not to say that it isnt entertaining, even if you can tell the name actors are ready to hand off this franchise to lesser lights, and the sooner the better.