Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Monday, January 13, 2014

OKAY I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, BUT DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE US WAIT TWO FREAKING YEARS?


Insidious: Chapters 1 and 2 Mashup (2013)

I dunno, maybe I'm losing my ability to appreciate a good, scary horror movie. Show me one and let's see - 'cause this ain't it. This will be a very unpopular opinion (most of mine are) because from what I've read, people think that James Wan walks on water and is the best thing since Sam Raimi. Okay one, that's blasphemy. Two, before you get hooked on a director who uses cheap tricks to force a scare (see below) and lots of twists, lets remember a similar director who nobody seems to want to work with anymore. Does the name M. Night Shyamalan ring any bells?

In 2011 Insidious came out and I reluctantly reviewed it on 10/10/12. To me, that movie was so full of unanswered questions, half plots and just plain WTH? moments it was impossible NOT to tear it completely apart. I called the movie out because it ripped off ideas from every other movie of its type. AND it claimed to be scarier than the Exorcist. 

Can you make this quick? I've
got three other houses to buy...
You know what was scary about the first and second Insidious? I'll tell you. The dialogue and whatever's going on is done softly, almost mumbling in spots so (if you're watching it at home) you have to turn the volume WAAAAY up to understand what's going on (especially if there's no CC available).

Then, since there's really no scares, they ramp it up by BLARING MUSIC AT TOP VOLUME!!! Damn thing just about blew out my woofer each time it did that. I can just imagine what it sounded like in a theater. THAT was scary. The movies were not. I mean just look at the movie poster. Duh. 


Remember waaaay back in the days of dial up modems that joke you played on your email buddies by sending them the 'ghost car commercial' joke? That gem shows a car driving around a road in the country and you were supposed to look reeeeal closely...


The most infuriating part is that this second movie which kind of explains the first wasn't even planned. OH NO YOU DON'T I CALL BULLSTUFF ON THAT ONE!!! I believed that at first, but consider this: the character of Elise Rainier, the medium who wears the most hilarious getup during her sceances was played in the first movie by Lin Shaye. At the end of the first movie she is killed. So the second movie backs up to explain what happened with the family way back when and Elise is alive and played by... Lin Shaye. 

THAT means that obviously something was planned to follow the first movie, otherwise why make her character look older if not so she can play her younger self in the second movie? AND she is to play that same character in the third, currently in pre-production? Huh? Huh? Yeah, thought so.

Hey! Heeeeeey! Remember me?
How come I'm not in this movie? Huh? Huh?
Nice mind-screw Mr. Wan. Just one small problem with your eeeeeevil little plan: Seeing them TWO YEARS apart would be worthless to the average moviegoer, considering they would have seen dozens of movies in between and so who memorizes movies for that long anyway? For the purpose of this review I actually watched the first movie again (don't say I never suffer for my readers) before watching the second.

I tried to think of a way to present this movie as an explanation to the first but as I said, there were two years between these films. SO I am going to attempt what may be impossible - give you the story by combining both movies. If you can't understand a bloody thing that's happening, that's perfectly okay. It just means you're in good company with others scratching their heads and wondering why they wasted money in the theaters just to have a soundtrack by Joseph Bishara blow out their eardrums. So here we go:


Dammit I'm dead and I'm still in this stupid movie...
We have a seemingly normal family called the Lamberts who live in a huge house because, as a school teacher, Mr. Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson, who is also in The Conjuring and seriously in danger of pigeonholing himself into roles in dumbass paranormal movies) is practically a millionaire. One day their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) has a spill and goes into a coma. He has no injuries or brain damage, but won't wake up. And the movie is over.

What? Okay, okay. He won't wake up so eventually they move him, hospital bed, tubes and gunk, back home. And weird things start to happen. Don't expect anything original. We're talking doors banging, opening by themselves, and the requirement of every paranormal movie: the kitchen furniture makes a big pile because we all know that ghosts are just frustrated interior decorators who want things a certain way. 


Grandma?
Josh (the millionaire teacher) has a mother (Barbara Hershey) who knows just what's going on but didn't bother to warn him. Thanks mom. Josh Lambert packs up his family and moves to a new huge house. And things get worse - much worse. Josh's mom finds family portraits and is freaked that Josh is in them because he can't have his photo taken - it steals his soul. 

Sigh, you guys aren't going to let me have ANY fun, are you? There is a small reveal that since Josh was small, every time she took his picture there was a ghostly figure of a woman near him and with each picture it got closer so she called a medium (I thought she was a small myself) named Elise who determined that Josh has the power of astral projection.


Who am I and why am I in this movie?
<sings> I'm not going to tell you...
Umm what? He's got the OBEs? That's out of body experience BTW SMH. He thinks he's been dreaming but he's been wandering Through The Never... oops, sorry, that's a Metallica song. He's been in what Elise calls (and she's the only medium here so she calls it anything she wants) The Further. You got your sad spirits, your mad spirits, your parasites (huh?), and your downright eeeevil ones. This woman she calls a parasite and says the way to protect Josh is to hypnotize him to forget he ever could do whatever she thinks he can do. So they do.

Back in the present his mother decides it's time for Elise to butt in again with her opinions. She tells the family it's not the houses - it's Dalton. Remember, this is a mashup of both movies so if you only saw the first one and are thinking WTH it's because you need to rush out and rent the second one okay? Or not.
Apparently they never pay their light bills in The Further...

Elise and her two assistants set up a sort of seance and this was so funny to me I had to watch it in sections 'cause I kept laughing too hard to hear what was going on. If I had been in a theater they would have thrown me out. They sit at the table and Elise... wait, let me put away all sharp objects and carbonated beverages. 

Elise brings out what looks to be a WWI gas mask with a long hose and an earphone at the end. Supposedly she's supposed to communicate but can't be heard by normal means <pfffffft> so she talks in the mask and the guy <choke> and the guy <choke> and the guy writes down what's going down on a pad of ppppppp... on a pad of paper. Whew. At first it's normal but of course it gets nasty really fast and she ends up screaming and passing out like every other medium.

Sorry, there's a three nightmare limit in this bedroom...
Dalton is in big trouble. Mostly because he has a horrible agent and he's stuck in this movie. Elise says there's a horrible thing keeping him in the Further and he's lost. Josh has to go get him. She and his mother confess to his previous trips twisting, turning, through the never. You heard what I said. 

So Dalton, whose condition has nothing to do with having his picture taken, is being pursued by Darth Maul - umm I mean an entity that is a cartoon demon - the only thing he was missing was a trident. I can't take credit for the Darth Maul reference either - somebody else said it, I just don't remember who. 


Excuse me ma'am? Sir? Grandma?
Josh finds Dalton and they both go Through The Never... sorry, The Further and wake up. Everybody's happy - for a couple of seconds. Then Elise notices Josh's hands are dirty and like claws. He is now the old woman who chased him as a boy. She takes his picture quickly before he kills her. The wife finds it and as she sees it he comes up behind her. He kills her and the whole thing's over.

Ah c'mon, do you really want this to continue - 'cause I didn't. Sheesh. He doesn't kill her, he just goes on with the rest to a second movie. Renai is suspicious of Josh but he's acting all nice and stuff so everybody moves in with Josh's mom until the police are done with their investigation of Elise's murder. And strange things happen - AGAIN. Doors open by themselves, something sets off the alarms (THAT was freaking annoying - can't hear them anyway and now this piercing noise) and the piano keeps playing by itself. Badly. 

But Josh has had enough of the boogeyman, he wants everybody to just shut up - for a very good reason. Want me to tell you why? Tough. What happened to Darth Maul? Apparently he went back to the Star War's set 'cause he conveniently is dropped in this movie.

Oh, a small continuity error and boo boo in one - Renai had been knocked unconscious by a ghostie and Josh finds her and places her on the couch. As he does you can see her pull her feet back so her knees are bent. Kind of hard to do when you're supposed to be knocked out. Also he places her with her face straight up toward the ceiling but when it cuts away for a second and back, her head is cranked all the way to the right.

Just to make things more... confusing, the deceased Elise's assistants go into her house trying to find... I have no freaking idea. But they do find a tape with Josh's name on it and observe the little boy and the session where they made him forget everything. They digitize the tape and lighten it up. Standing in the corner in back of the kid is the grown up version of Josh. Oookay. Something is amiss. Mostly that you spent anywhere from twenty bucks on up to see this. They then go see Elise's friend Carl for more fun.


Wait.. is mortis allowed in Scrabble?
Carl's version of a Ouija board (since they seem to be determined not to have one in these two movies) is playing Boggle. No, really I'm serious. He has a bunch of 'dice' with letters in a cup. He shakes them up, asks a question and throws them on the table. What, no Magic 8 ball? What's wrong with these people? After a couple of false starts they get an answer to go to an abandoned hospital conveniently open when Josh's mom was a nurse. Oh. No. We've gone from slightly interesting with a two movie mashup right back down to paranormal hand held camera crap in an abandoned hospital. Mr. Wan you SUCK!

They find the ICU and Lorraine remembers a patient called Parker Crane, there because he attempted to castrate himself. The last time she saw him he was in the elevator with her and got off on a different floor. She asked the admitting desk why he was up and was told he had died by suicide the day before. Conveniently because otherwise this movie will be four hours long they immediately find his records in the abandoned record room (geez, that would be an identity thief's treasure trove - all those names, social security numbers, etc.) and find out where he lived. Oh yes, we're hunting wabbits now.


The Church Of The Perpetual Plot Fail
Parker's house is not only still conveniently standing, but unoccupied. They break in and find a secret room that has pews like a church and the dessicated corpses of dozens of women, all in wedding dresses. Parker had been a serial killer who kept clippings of all his crimes (he was called The Bride In Black) 'cause of his mother. The living discover Elise didn't send them here, Parker's mother did, and not because she wanted to be nice. 

Just to keep things nice and confusing, Josh (the real one in The Further) finds Elise (why is she there?) and they try to figure a way to find the woman who killed Elise. She suggests they ask the one person who would know - Josh the child. Oh geez, now we're doing time travel in The Further. He asks the Josh who's still under hypnosis where to find the woman and Josh stands up and points at his bedroom. They go to the door and open it. This was shown on the tape in the first movie with absolutely no explanation. Now you know. Happy?


Tell me again why you couldn't CGI this?
Meanwhile among the living - Josh's mother rushes home and tells the wife and kids to get out and that Josh is not Josh. Duh. The three men surround Josh who by now is becoming ill for... I don't know, cause he's not really Josh? I don't really care. Three strong men cannot subdue Josh. This is not even the BIGGEST duh of the whole movie but it came close since they made a big deal of Josh starting to fall apart and becoming ill and THREE men can't hold him? Sigh. This movie is 105 minutes long. That's 105 minutes more than it needed.

The family gets the okay to come home and of course get ambushed by Josh/not Josh. So now we have The Shining going on as a crazed Josh/not Josh hunts down the family. They end up down in the basement and Dalton gets the bright idea of twisting, turning, Through The Never... sigh. I mean he goes into The Further to get his dad. So what, two people are going to be in this body now?


Son? Daughter? Grandma?
Nope, apparently it's one per customer. Dalton finds his dad and Elise and Carl (the Boggle guy) and they make their way to get out of there - well not Elise, she's dead. On the way they discover the reason the woman's been following Josh - it's not a woman, it's the serial killer. As a boy he was forced to live as a girl and so hates all women and kills... you know what? I really don't care.

Everybody gets out, all go to the right bodies, and we have another happy moment that's surely going to go to hell any moment. That is, as soon as Mr. Wan gets another freaking script and maybe another two years go by...


What's that Mr. Wan? I get a five movie contract?
Our epilogue is the two assistants who seek out those who need help with 'parasite spirits'. Oh. Brother. They show up at a family's house, telling them when their daughter, currently in a sort of vegetative state, was resuscitated, she brought something bad back with her. Unseen by everyone except the youngest daughter is the spirit of Elise, who decides to tag along in astral form I'm assuming, to help the two with their, uh, endeavors. 

Our last scene (THANK YOU!) is Elise staring at the afflicted girl, then at the corner where, I'm assuming there is something really nasty. She yells 'Oh my God' like anybody's going to hear her and the movie's over. And Mr. Wan has more money. And a setup for another freaking movie. And I have a freaking headache. You're welcome.