Rose Byrne re­turns in spooky In­sid­i­ous se­quel

In­sid­i­ous 2 shuns scares for laughs, writes Roger Moore

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

MORE silly than its sin­is­ter pre­de­ces­sor, In­sid­i­ous: Chap­ter 2 is en­ter­tain­ing for the con­tor­tions the script makes to in­cor­po­rate both a brief pre­quel and high­lights from the first film into a new 105-minute pack­age.

This is a mo­bius strip of a movie, loop­ing in on it­self with ghosts from The Fur­ther and par­al­lel ex­is­tences in­ter­wo­ven into the lives of the lost Lam­berts of sunny Some­where, Cal­i­for­nia.

Those Saw/In­sid­i­ous guys James Wan (di­rec­tor) and Leigh Whan­nell (co-writer, co-star) throw their pretty good cast – Pa­trick Wil­son, Rose Byrne and Bar­bara Her­shey – into a fol­lowup to the Pol­ter­geist- ish tale of the gutsy, long-haunted dad, Josh (Wil­son), who goes ‘‘to the other side’’ to fetch his kid­napped boy (Ty Simp­kins) from the de­monic spirit that snatched him.

And if the re­sult isn’t nearly as hair-rais­ing as the first film, at least they’ve set the ta­ble for more se­quels, spin-offs – a sort of Lone Gun­men TV se­ries, even.

A 10-minute pro­logue tells us of how younger Josh was first vis­ited by a spirit, and first ‘‘treated’’ by ghost buster Elise (Lind­say Seim as a younger ver­sion of Lin Shaye’s char­ac­ter). Back in the present, adult Josh and wife Re­nai (Byrne) have fled to grandma’s house af­ter the har­row­ing events of In­sid­i­ous, which ended with Elise dead.

Re­nai doesn’t know for sure that Josh didn’t kill the medium, and nei­ther do the cops. It doesn’t help that Josh has a faintly de­monic bent to his de­nials about the spooky ap­pari­tions, such as a pi­ano that plays by it­self. ‘‘You have to re­lax,’’ he purrs. ‘‘Ig­nore them and they will go away.’’ Of course, ‘‘they’’ don’t. That’s when granny Lor­raine (Her­shey) sum­mons Elise’s old part­ner (Steve Coul­ter), along with her younger ghost hunters, Specs (Whan­nell) and Tucker (An­gus Samp­son).

Then the jok­ing be­gins. In white shirts and black ties, the ghost hunters have ev­ery­thing but the sun­glasses and sports coats of the Men in Black. They’re cred­u­lous when all around them are in­cred­u­lous.

That’s the sly com­fort in this ‘‘feel­good’’ horror fran­chise. Out there, in the Yel­low Pages, there are ‘‘ex­perts’’ who can help you deal with the su­per­nat­u­ral. And even af­ter death, a good ghost hunter is still on the clock.

The techno-props – rang­ing from baby mon­i­tors and old found video, to tin-can tele­phones – con­vey the ghostly voices from be­yond. The ouija board sub­sti­tute here is a Bog­gle bag of let­ter dice that pass on mes­sages from the dead.

The beastly things we see are noth­ing you wouldn’t recog­nise from Mom­mie Dear­est. And every­body keeps a straight face. In­sid­i­ous: Chap­ter 2 isn’t as clever as the screen­writ­ers seem to think and the movie isn’t re­motely as scary as the film it is fol­low­ing. But that’s not to say it isn’t en­ter­tain­ing, on some level.

In­sid­i­ous: Chap­ter 2 opens to­day.

Rose Byrne in a scene from In­sid­i­ous: Chap­ter 2.

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