Making the Grades
The poor Lambert family doesn’t learn very fast. In their previous Insidious outing they had to put up with squeaky doors and haunting sounds until they finally discovered the ghost that was freeloading in their home wasn’t attached to their house, but to their son (Ty Simpkins). The discovery saved the family but cost the life of Elise, their psychic (Lin Shaye). Now in “Chapter 2”, parents Josh and Renai (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) are living in Josh’s mother’s (Barbara Hershey) home where they once again are spooked by creaks and groans. Worse yet the police are still investigating Elise’s death and Josh is a prime suspect.
A case lot of WD-40 would likely solve ninety percent of their issues, but the opening of this movie assures us this issue is more than rusty hinges. It turns out Josh had his own ghostly interaction with mediator Elise when he was a young boy, along with an assistant named Carl (Hank Harris). Now Carl (Steve Coulter) is feeling the need to communicate with Elise in the afterlife. For added support he teams up with Specs and Tucker (Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson)—Elise’s tech team from the first movie—and discovers the Lamberts are still in danger.
Other than a brief twist in the third act, this movie is all about scene and setting. Old houses with dim light bulbs and an abandoned hospital (complete with confidential patient records still on the shelves) provide plenty of boo business. As the plot thickens the violence escalates, with portrayals of a possessed male character that lashes out and strikes a woman multiple times, attempts to choke her and threatens a child with a weapon. Other scenes depict fights and scuffles with a knife and a hypodermic tranquilizer. Squeamish stomachs will also awaken when a hidden room is discovered that’s full of murdered corpses—all women. Finally another flashback reveals a child forced to assume an opposite gender identity.
There is no sexual content and profanities are limited to a single scatological curse and terms of Christian deity. Obviously those who don’t appreciate themes involving séances and psychics will also want to search for scares elsewhere.
The movie deserves credit for turning some everyday objects into spooky devices, like a tin can telephone that becomes a conduit for a rude awakening during a child’s sleep. But the involvement of children in this story will almost certainly make this a nightmare generator for young audiences. For older teens and adults, there’s little here of artistic or moral value to make the film worth your time. With a closing moment that falls just short of proclaiming “Insidious Chapter 3: Coming soon to a theater near you,” viewers can be assured that ghost busters Specs, Tucker and Carl (and most likely a resurrected Elise) will be back to haunt theaters again.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Insidious: Chapter 2.
Did the movie make you jump? What makes movies scarier for you—outright, in your face scary images on the screen or more subtle themes that linger in your mind after the movie? Why are so many people attracted to horror movies?
Is there a link between movies that dwell on the afterlife and religious beliefs? Why is the afterlife nearly always depicted as a frightening place? Why are “ghosts” often evil? What do these repeated themes say about our views of religion and the possibility of a life hereafter?