Movie review: ‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ shuns frights for laughs

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICESeptember 13, 2013 

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Danielle Bisutti is one of the creepy ghosts in “Insidious: Chapter 2.”

  • INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2

    •• Rated: PG-13 for sequences of terror and violence, and thematic elements. Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey. Director: James Wan. Running time: 105 minutes. Theaters: Edwards 22 and Edwards 9 in Boise, Edwards 14 and Edwards 12 in Nampa, Majestic 18 in Meridian.

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 isn’t nearly as hair-raising as the first film, at least they’ve 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 Shaye’s character). In the present, adult Josh and wife Renai (Byrne) have fled to grandma’s house after the harrowing events of “Insidious,” which ended with Elise dead.

Renai doesn’t know for sure that Josh didn’t 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.” They’re credulous when all around them are incredulous.

That’s 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” isn’t as clever as the screenwriters think, and the movie isn’t remotely as scary as the first. But that’s not to say that it isn’t entertaining, even if you can tell the “name” actors are ready to hand off this “franchise” to lesser lights, and the sooner the better.

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