When a movie tries to scare you every thirty seconds for the entire running time, it gets tiring as well as ineffective. Insidious: Chapter 2 takes off immediately where the superior original took off, with Patrick Wilson having returned from the other side of the astral plane while wife Rose Byrne and mother Barbara Hershey – the two fretting all the time – are still spooked out of their wits. A day later, things are obviously not back to normal with all the iffy cradle rocking, bumps in the closet and thumps coming from the attic. Writer-director James Wan has a good eye for this stuff as demonstrated the first time out as well as in his summer hit “The Conjuring,” but it’s become a recycled bag of tricks.
This sequel is a clothesline for goosey, spooky set-ups of ghosts typically moving around the corner and Byrne following them to no avail. Ghost hunters Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Simpson), exchanging some low-rent banter when they are not spouting convoluted explanations, get some help from a medium (Steve Coulter) who uses dice to interpret the intentions of the ghosts. The expert medium Elise (Lin Shaye, the grey-haired psychic) is deceased, but still exists on the other side for help – yes, that’s how hokey this has become. The central question of the movie: Did Dad bring evil spirits with him when he returned from the other side?
With storytelling this inadequate you should be far from caring what the answer is. But there are some people who want to be scared this weekend. “Chapter 2” has the equivalent of cattle-prod scares that will work on some young, very young people who have seen less than a half dozen good horror movies in their time.
Keep in mind, Wan’s original had a mystifying visual technique and depended on sinister atmosphere, some frightening well-timed episodes, with full-blown terror saved for the last act. This one, which gets kind of boring until a more suspenseful conclusion (Dad devolves into a possessed Jack Torrance “The Shining” type), is mostly crammed with nonstop jerky “terrors.” Stay home, drop some creepy-crawlers down your back, and have someone yank your coattails for 105 nonstop minutes and you will achieve the same effect.
105 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
HORROR / SUPERNATURAL / SATURDAY NIGHT GOOSEBUMPS