Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

*. I was lukewarm to Insidious, a movie that I’d so completely forgotten by the time I got around to watching Chapter 2 I had to go back to my notes to refresh my memory as to what it had been about.
*. The machinery of this film is more of the same, as you’d expect with the return of writer Leigh Whannell (who also plays the paranormal investigator Specs) and director James Wan. The scary stuff plays out predictably. A tin can telephone is introduced in the early going that you can be sure is going to come into play later. It is. Meanwhile, a piano plays by itself. Children’s toys turn on by themselves. Rocking horses rock by themselves. People wander through spooky old mansions, the only illumination coming from their flashlights. A chandelier nearly falls on someone. Ghostly figures are seen.
*. We are also exploring the same psychic geography as the first film, a realm of the dead known as the Further. I was disappointed, however, to see that the Lipstick-Face Demon had gone missing, to be replaced by a Bride in Black who seems to have wandered off the set of American Horror Story. This new demon is a clichéd figure, only slightly redeemed by a back story that might have been torn from a Grade Z giallo.
*. If I was lukewarm to Insidious I’d rate my response to Chapter 2 as being a little cooler. It’s really not very scary. They throw in some nonsense about the ghosts playing Boggle with another medium, and the final act, while adequately wrapping things up, goes on far too long. But I doubt anyone really cared.
*. Because the box office. The box office! The film grossed over $160 million worldwide against a budget of $5 million. For a movie that really has nothing much to recommend it at all. I find this hard to understand. I know that a bad movie, even a terrible movie, can become a hit if it somehow manages to hit the zeitgeist. As William Goldman put it, when it comes to predicting winners in this business nobody knows anything. But I don’t understand how a movie that is neither good nor bad, and which is in no way original or different from any one of a dozen other films released around the same time, can have this kind of success.
*. Whatever the explanation, only one conclusion could be drawn: Forward the franchise!

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