I'll admit this one worked a little better than the last one, and that despite myself I started to care a little about what happened to this family. And it earned some favor for casting my pretend girlfriend Jocelin "House of the Devil" Donahue as the younger version of Barbara Hershey's character, plus I didn't predict the creepy dead old lady from the first movie was a ghost in drag. Good for you, Chapter 2, you got a half star more!
The rage kicks in early during the opening flashback, when we see Josh as a kid get ghost-busted by a young Elise and her earlier tech geek Carl. Elise is played by a younger actress, of course, but this poor actress obviously has her voice blorped over by the distinctly grating Lin Shaye Elise voice. (I've seen Lin Shaye in other stuff, and I'm convinced it's not her but this character, but whatever. Elise sucks.) At the end of the session Josh says "I'll show you" and points to a door that mysteriously opens. More on that later.
Back in the present, the cast deals with the events that ended Insidious, namely Josh saving his kid from the world of movie smoke but getting snookered himself because he stood around yelling "leave us alone!" when he should have been hauling his spirit ass back to his actual ass.
So Rose Byrne is living with a dead guy possessing her husband and once again a possession story makes me yawn. There's some ghosts appearing and un-appearing and the piano plays itself a few times, but somehow it's not enough.
Meanwhile Barbara Hershey and the two geeks team up with the older geek Carl from the flashback and together they go scooby-dooing around in the middle of the night, led around by the unseen ghost of their old buddy Elise. As they collect pieces of the puzzle it becomes apparent that their town contains nothing but long-abandoned buildings.
Then it turns out the directions they've been following (via Carl's letter dice) aren't coming from Elise but from some bad, unhelpful ghost instead. I thought this was hilariously inept; when you're taking advice from an invisible, inaudible person it's foolish not to establish identity. Were JPX to contact me from the afterlife, I could probably rattle off a good half dozen questions that only ghost him would know.
Of course when we see Josh fumbling around in The Further later, actual Elise is there with her stupid scarf draped over her stupid ghost shoulders. Then she really honked me off.
Stepping back for a bit, indulge me as I return to the rant well. The subject? Prequels. I don't think prequels are necessarily bad, but they often turn out that way. And the generally accepted lie that powers bad prequels is the idea that various elements of a given movie need to be explained in a whole other different movie. I first became really irked by this when some ad copy for one of the later Saw movies mentioned that the origin of Jigsaw's mask was included in the story, so people could finally find out where that came from.
I mean, who's asking? As you may remember, I often become very impatient with origin stories, and this attitude is basically making an origin story not just for the movie's main character, but for the way two characters in the movie met, that guy's distinctive motorcycle jacket, that lamp back there, almost literally WHATEVER.
Insidious Chapter 2 isn't a prequel per se, but it commits a couple of similar crimes against cinema. I'll overlook the "How We Met Elise" flashbacks because Jocelin Donahue is involved. But later when Josh is wandering around The Furber he winds up visiting his own house in the recent past, and we discover that the time in Insidious when the burglar alarm went off was Future Spirit Josh! Wow, nobody saw that coming! (Because it's stupid.)
That part was silly, but not rage inducing. The kicker comes when they return to the scene I described above, when little Josh stands up and points and all that. We see it from the perspective of the Further Gang (Josh and Elise and Carl) and all along it was grown up Spirit Josh that little Josh spoke to, and Spirit Josh who opened the door. And in her astonishingly cloying, know-it-all voice, Elise says "So that's what that was all about!"
She basically distilled everything I hate about prequels into one smug, self-satisfied sentence. Were I Elvis, I would've shot the TV.