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Chronic stupidity haunts ‘Insidious: Chapter 2’

Insidious: Chapter 2 is the inevitable sequel to the widely-adored, financially-successful horror film, Insidious (2010).

Insidious: Chapter 2
Rating: R
Running time: 95 min.
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey

And sure enough, James Wan’s second chapter of this story is every bit as robustly moronic, strident, and unimaginative as its predecessor.

Picking up right where the first installment left off, the horrifically haunted Lambert family is attempting to figure out why awful things keep happening to them.

They’ve relocated several times, only to find each home filled with malignant spirits continuing to cause distress. So Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne), father and mother to two little boys, seek out assistance from self-proclaimed spiritual specialists and others.

Carelessly oscillating from past to present and consistently blurring the line between reality and fiction, Wan effectively established Insidious: Chapter 2 as not merely an incomprehensible piece of work, but a nearly unwatchable one.

To uncover the root of the evil, the film intertwines flashbacks from 1986, re-examining Josh’s troubled childhood. The jagged storytelling may be worth wading through the confusion if it had contained even a modicum of tension or intensity.

Instead, Wan settles for the lowest common dominator: An uneventful film plagued by the type of horror clichés and tropes that rapidly kill brain cells.

For example, not a single character has the intellectual capability to make a single pragmatic decision (save, occasionally, for Barbara Hershey as Josh’s mother). Unfortunately the made up phenomenon known as “chronic idiocy” seems to haunt Insidious: Chapter 2.

When the film isn’t preoccupied with characters endlessly making poor decisions, it’s focused on creating the same wind-up and delivery of every “scary” movie from the 20th century.

I’ll set the scene: pseudo-ominous score is blaring in the background (the type of music formally reserved for campy B-movies).

A character aimlessly enters a room, at which point the camera gracelessly zooms in on his/her face to evoke some sort of tension. The shot is held for an uncomfortable amount of time until we finally see, at the top right or left of the screen, a deformed figure just siting there.

Dramatic irony abounds. We see the demonic creature, but the character doesn’t.

Eventually he/she turns his/her head after hearing noises. It’s a moment we’ve all been privy to, yet we can’t help but avert our eyes. The character turns and is petrified by the discovery of (in this case) a devilish specimen waxing profane.

The frazzled and frightened character then proceeds to frantically run out of the room. Wash, rinse, repeat that sequence, compounded with sloppy storytelling and underdeveloped characters, and you have Insidious: Chapter 2.

But before we close the book on this chapter of Insidious (and inevitably onto the third film), someone, aside from myself, needs to inform Wan that employing the shaky hand-held camera in his films does not create suspense; just ceaseless nausea.

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