INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2

I dunno. I guess I liked it a little more than the original, and it definitely improves in the second half after a plodding start. But possession movies seem to have hit a dead end; they’re merely repeating themselves. Inasmuch as this one is on its way to the highest September opening in history, you’d expect at least one good scare. Instead, we get a familiar laundry list of eerie happenings: the toy that lights up in the middle of the night for no reason, the ghost that rushes past at the end of the hallway only to disappear, the mysterious child sitting silently with her back to you, the chandelier that comes crashing down. The explanation for the haunting comes right out of PSYCHO, which is not a deal killer but is still long past a fresh plot’s sell-by date. And as with the first, the acting is just awful, especially Lyn Shaye, who apparently peaked 15 years ago topless in THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne aren’t much better; nor does Barbara Hershey provide hoped-for crazy juice. A year from now, if you asked me to separate INSIDIOUS 2 from THE CONJURING, James Wan’s other 2013 horror flick (also starring Wilson) I’d be hard pressed. In fact, I’d have a tough time even now. — Jeff Schultz

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