Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

Insidious Chapter 2 explained poster

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at the 2nd installment of the Insidious series, Insidious Chapter 2

Picking up where Insidious left off, the Lamberts must figure out what followed Josh out of the Further and how to survive the new threat without Elise.

Related Article: Insidious (2010) Explained

Is Insidious Chapter 2 Scary?

Insidious Chapter 2 has some good effective jump scares but they aren’t as effective as the first. Where the first had more tension building, this one feels more in your face in trying to scare you. There also feels to be more emphasis on character development which isn’t a bad thing.

Overall you won’t leave Insidious Chapter 2 too scared of much unless you recently left a demonic purgatory and you just saw another ghost.

Insidious Quick Recap:

Quick Recap of the first Insidious: We’re introduced to The Lambert family consisting of songwriter Renai (Rose Byrne), her husband and professor Josh (Patrick Wilson), their 10-ish-year-old son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), slightly younger son Foster (Andrew Astor), and baby Kali. Dalton falls into a mysterious coma and months later Renai starts seeing ghosts in the home. 

After moving to a new home and still seeing dead people, Renai and the reluctant Josh are told by Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), that they should reach out to Elise (Lin Shaye), a powerful psychic, and her team of comic relief assistants, Specs and Tucker (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson).

Elise discovers Dalton has a unique ability to astral project to a place called the Further, a place where ghosts and tortured souls wander around. Turns out Dalton isn’t in a coma, he’s lost in the Further and the increased ghost activity is due to souls attempting to find his body and take it for themselves.

Elise also reveals Josh had the same ability and when he was young, was haunted by an evil spirit known as the Bride in Black. Lorraine reached out to Elise for help and the two agreed to wipe Josh’s memory of the incident and his ability to astral project. 

In order to save Dalton, Elise re-teaches Josh the ability and he travels to the Further where we learn time isn’t linear. With the slight help of a younger Josh, adult Josh is able to find Dalton. The two are then separately pursued by a Red-Faced demon and the Bride in Black.

The two successfully return to the real world and everyone hugs. Except the film ends with one final private hug from Josh to Elise with his hands around her neck. As Elise dies, a picture she took of Josh moments before her death, reveals the Bride in Black was able to possess Josh’s body before he returned from the Further.

On to Chapter 2!

Insidious: Chapter 2 Full Plot Summary

The movie opens in a flashback to 1986 where we see Elise (played by Lindsay Seim) arrive at Lorraine’s (played by Jocelin Donahue) home to investigate what is haunting Josh. In a weird decision, Elise is voiced by Lin Shaye who plays Elise in the present, it’s immediately noticeable and distracting because the dubbing, while not horrible, is not the best.

With the help of fellow psychic Carl (played by Hank Harris), Elise sends Josh into the Further so he can lead her to where the ghost haunting him is hiding in the physical world. After something cuts Elise’s arm, she determines the best way to protect Josh is to wipe his memory. As she’s telling Lorraine this, Josh who is still sleeping gets up and says “I’ll show you” and points to a nearby closet that opens on its own.

Title screen along with an annoyingly loud musical sting.

We open a short time after the ending of the last film with Renai (Rose Byrne) being questioned by Detective Sendal (Michael Beach) about the events surrounding Elise’s death. In a quick flashback, we see Renai finding Elise’s body and Josh (Patrick Wilson) appearing shocked at her death. 

Since there’s no real evidence tying Josh to the murder and the picture shows the Bride in Black, Sendal isn’t able to arrest Josh. The questioning ends with Sendal telling Renai he is planning on testing the marks around Elise’s neck to see if they match Josh.

That night, after the Lamberts have temporarily moved into Lorraine’s home, we see Foster has built a tin can telephone and eagerly wants Dalton to play with him. Downstairs Renai hears someone playing the piano and goes to investigate.

Unsurprisingly there’s no one at the piano but she can’t ponder the mystery for long as she hears Kali crying upstairs. Rushing to her room, Renai finds Kali out of her crib and decides to tell Josh their asses are still haunted. 

Josh refuses to believe they’re still haunted but when the conversation turns to Elise’s death, he says something evil followed him out of the Further to kill her.

“We’re not haunted… but an evil ghost did follow me and killed Elise… We’re fine.”

Meanwhile, Tucker and Specs (Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell respectively) mourn Elise’s death at the team’s home but are interrupted when they hear the reading room door open on its own. The two find the VHS Carl recorded of the opening scene back in 1986. Curious as to who young Josh is talking to when he says “I’ll show you.” Tucker spots something and we cut away. 

Back at Lorraine’s home, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) checks in on Dalton who is talking in his sleep. As she sits on his bed, Dalton tells her there’s someone behind her; cue the creepy music! Luckily there isn’t anyone behind Lorraine but she can’t leave well enough alone, so she searches the home instead of running to her bed and hiding under a blanket.

Downstairs, one of Kali’s unnecessarily loud toys goes off on its own and Lorraine rushes to turn it off. After doing so, Lorraine spots someone in a white dress walking passed the end of the hall. For some reason, she thinks it’s Renai and follows her but the mysterious stranger disappears.

In the bathroom, Lorraine spots the woman in white through the mirror and is stunned as the door closes on its own. Opening the door Josh appears in a jumpscare and Lorraine tells him about the ghost. Josh convinces her it was just her imagination as news of a ghost in the house would terrify Renai and the rest of the family.

The next morning Dalton tells Renai he had a bad dream and says there was someone standing behind Lorraine in his room. We see a quick flashback of the Lorraine in Dalton’s room and the woman in white is standing by the closet watching them. 

Dalton then tells his mother that after waking up he heard Josh in the hallway talking to someone. In another quick flashback, we see Josh repeatedly telling someone “You have to go”. Later while Josh takes the kids to school and Lorraine goes to visit Tucker and Specs, Renai gets a call from Detective Sendal who tells her the marks around Elise’s neck did not match Josh. 

After hanging up, Renai sees Kali’s toy moving on its own and goes to investigate. The woman in white reappears singing “Row, row, row your boat” and signals Renai to follow her. 

If a ghost tells you to follow them, how about don’t?

Renai chases after her but she disappears. Moments later she hears the woman through the baby monitor and Kali begins crying. Renai rushes up to the room but the door slams shut before she can get in. She then hears the woman inside the room and a slap is heard.

Renai is finally able to push the door open but Kali and the woman are gone. Following Kali’s cries downstairs, Renai enters the living room and, in a jumpscare, the woman appears and slaps Renai. The slap is so hard, Renai is thrown and knocked out. So, you know, don’t fuck with that lady.

Meanwhile, at Spec’s and Tucker’s, Lorraine tells them she believes they’re still being haunted by something. Tucker basically says “That’s weird but wanna see some weirder shit?” and shows Lorraine he digitized the video from 1986. Zooming in and brightening the frame where young Josh says “I’ll show you” we see an adult Josh standing behind him.

The three decide Elise is the only one who can help them but since she has that whole “being dead” problem, they call Carl (now played by Steve Coulter) for help. Carl arrives and tells the group he can communicate with spirits using special dice with letters on them. After a few unsuccessful attempts at contacting Elise, they finally get an answer.

“Should we ask if she has ID?”

The group asks Elise how to find who killed her and the dice direct them to the Our Lady of the Angels Hospital. Coincidentally, Lorraine used to work there years ago DUN DUN DUNNN. The four head to the hospital and because this is a horror movie, it’s currently closed and abandoned. 

Carl guides them through the rooms until he gets a vision of the woman in black. Lorraine realizes they are in the ICU and we get a flashback to Lorraine’s time as a doctor at the hospital. One day Josh is with Lorraine at the hospital as she finishes up her day. 

Before she leaves, she checks up on patient Parker Crane in the ICU who attempted to castrate himself. While she reviews his chart with a nurse, Josh becomes nosy and starts touching the machines around Crane. In a jumpscare, Crane wakes up and attacks Josh but is successfully restrained by other doctors.

Bet you Josh will never fuck around with medical equipment again though

Several days later Lorraine sees Crane in the elevator and apologizes for Josh being nosy. Crane doesn’t say a word and after he gets off the elevator, Lorraine asks a nurse why Crane was walking around on his own. Confused, the nurse reveals that Crane killed himself the day before.

Back in the present, the group look through old records, that probably shouldn’t still be in the abandoned hospital but whatever, and find Parker Crane’s old address. Carl ominously says there’s something at that house they need to find.

At Lorraine’s home, Josh finds Renai still knocked out and creepily smells her hair. Instead of waking her up we next see him in the bathroom where one of his teeth falls out. The woman in white appears behind the shower curtain and tells him his dead soul is causing Josh’s body to deteriorate. This heavily hints that Parker Crane has possessed Josh’s body.

Even the dead don’t like going to the dentist

The woman in white is revealed to be Parker Crane’s mother and tells Crane-Josh that he must kill in order to prevent Josh’s body from wasting away. Crane-Josh says he just wants to live and begs not to be forced to kill.

Renai finally wakes up screaming and rushes to Kali’s room where she finds her safe and sound. Renai tells Josh they’re still haunted and Josh says they just have to ignore the ghosts and they’ll go away. The two then hear the piano playing on its own and go to investigate which feels like the opposite of ignoring. 

Renai realizes the song that’s been playing is the song she wrote for Josh and is shocked when he doesn’t recognize it. Crane-Josh quickly changes the subject and leaves to search the house for ghosts while Renai starts to realize that maybe her husband isn’t her husband. So if your significant other doesn’t recognize something you wrote them, chances are their ass is possessed.

Meanwhile, Spec, Tucker, Lorraine, and Carl arrive at Parker Crane’s house and because this is still a horror movie, it’s abandoned and boarded up. Spec and Tucker eventually find Crane’s room but are confused when it looks like a little girl’s room. Behind them, a little girl appears sitting on the bed and says she’ll be forced to kill them if they’re spotted.

Maybe don’t go searching abandoned homes?

Back at Lorraine’s house, Dalton is awoken by someone calling out to him through the tin-can telephone. Thinking it’s Foster, Dalton tells him to go back to sleep but the voice clarifies that it’s not Foster. The string to the phone is then pulled and Dalton sees it leads to the closet. 

The voice says they are the ones “he” killed and a woman suddenly runs out of the closet. The voice yells out for help and as Dalton looks back toward the closet, several more ghosts appear. Realizing he’s not actually awake and in the Further, Dalton jumps back in bed as the ghost lunge at him. Moments later he is awoken by Renai who comforts him as he cries.

Downstairs we get confirmation that the real Josh is trapped in Further when, in the piano room, Crane-Josh tells him he won’t be able to reach Renai. Maybe Josh should be trying to contact Dalton who is regularly making trips into the Further?

Back at Crane’s home, Carl tries to reach out to Elise again with his dice and asks what they should be looking for. The dice spell out ‘mors’, Latin for death, just as Lorraine saves Carl from a falling chandelier. Specs and Tucker run back to the room as Carl realizes that the spirit he’s been communicating with isn’t actually Elise.

Carl asks who it is and the spirit reveals itself to be the mother of Parker Crane aka the woman in white. She also calls herself ‘Mater Mortis’, Latin for Mother of Death and that feels a bit narcissistic.

Hearing knocking come from a nearby bookshelf, the group discover a hidden room filled with the bodies of Parker Crane’s victims. In a nearby chest, Specs finds multiple newspaper clippings revealing in life Parker Crane was the serial killer known as the Bride in Black. The group also finds the black dress and veil Crane wore to kill his victims. Carl reaches out to it and gets visions of Parker Crane dressing up and committing the murders.

Carl learns Parker Crane’s mother forced him to kill and the dress was his disguise. The next day Lorraine catches Renai as she’s about to enter the house and warns her that Josh is possessed. Luckily Dalton and Foster are currently at a friend’s home and Kali is in the car so Renai and Lorraine drive off with the family safe.

After they leave, Carl, who is wearing a wire with Specs and Tucker listening in on the conversation, knocks on the door and introduces himself to Josh. Under the pretense of getting closure for Elise’s death, Carl asks to speak with him.

Crane-Josh offers to get Carl some water and as he leaves we see that Carl has a syringe filled with a liquid intended to sedate Josh. In an effectively tense scene, Crane-Josh returns with his hand behind his back and reveals he knows exactly who Carl is. Carl then calls him Parker Crane and uses his dice to tell him that Crane is holding a knife. 

As Crane-Josh lunges at Carl, Specs, and Tucker rush into the house to help. Luckily Carl has managed to disarm Josh but is currently being choked out. Specs provides no help and is immediately knocked down by Josh. 

Tucker enters and uses a taser on Josh forcing him to release an unconscious Carl. Josh then stabs Tucker with the sedative causing him to fall atop Specs and Josh closes the scene by knocking out Specs. 

A short time later Carl wakes up in the Further where the real Josh helps him up and breaks the bad news that he’s dead. Taking that news like a champ, Carl suggests they find Elise and ask her for help getting Josh back to his body.

Searching through the Further, a spirit points the two toward the Lambert’s home. Josh spots one of the ghosts from the first film holding a baby monitor and entering the home. Because time in the Further isn’t linear, we see that this ties back to the first film where the same ghost appeared in the house by Kali’s crib.

In the first film, Josh and Renai are talking in bed when they’re interrupted by banging at the front door. While Josh goes to investigate, Renai checks in on Kali and sees the ghoul standing at her crib. Josh runs back upstairs but the ghoul has disappeared, he then rushes back downstairs when the alarm goes off and he finds the front door wide open.

Turns out the person who banged on the door and eventually opened it was the Josh from this film in an attempt to warn them of the ghost. In the first film, the ghoul disappears and everyone appears safe but we now see it disappeared from the real world because Josh attacked it in the Further.

Unfortunately for Josh, the ghoul is a better fighter and quickly gains the upper hand. Elise finally arrives and saves Josh by pushing the demon out of a window with a lamp that burns the demon.

The two regroup with Carl, and Elise tells them they need to find Parker Crane’s home in the Further in order to use the memories stored there to draw him out of Josh’s body… sure. Josh says he doesn’t know how to get to Crane’s house but Elise suggests a different Josh may know.

Tying back to the start of the film, we see that the person young Josh was talking to was this Josh and he was showing him where Crane lives. The closet opening on its own was caused by Josh, Elise, and Carl of this timeline opening the closet to get to Crane’s home via a red door. Those are basically portals in this franchise.

In the real present world, Renai and Lorraine arrive back at Lorraine’s house and are attacked by Crane-Josh. Josh manages to lock Lorraine in a closet and catches up to Renai to strangle her. But because villains gotta monologue, this gives Dalton and Foster enough time to arrive home and Dalton hits Crane-Josh over the head with a bat.

Dalton, Foster, and Renai run to the basement and lock themselves in. In the Further, Josh, Elise, and Carl arrive at Crane’s house in the past and find the little girl sitting on Crane’s bed. We then see that Crane is the little girl and was physically and emotionally abused by his mother if he didn’t act like a girl.

Crane’s mother yells at our protagonists and this somehow forces Carl and Elise out of the room, locking Josh inside. In the real world, Dalton decides to enter the Further to look for Josh and immediately falls asleep holding the tin can telephone Foster made.

Sure, you sometimes end up in a place with evil spirits who want to possess you but, to be able to fall asleep within moments of declaring it? 9 times out of 10 I make that trade every time.

Upstairs Specs wakes up, releases Lorraine, and the two rush downstairs as Josh breaks into the basement. Specs is once again beaten and tossed aside by Josh who then notices Dalton has entered the Further. Grabbing a hammer, Josh prepares to kill a sleeping Dalton.

In the Further while Parker Crane’s mom attacks Josh, Elise and Carl find a young Parker and convince him to open the door so they can destroy the memories and set him free. 

How is she going to destroy the memories? Is there some magical spell or incantation? Will Parker fight his mother and metaphorically overcome the abuse? Will Carl and Elise use some kind of special Further skill that- oh… Elise just grabs a rocking horse and bashes Parker’s mom’s head in.

With Parker’s mom’s death, in the real world Crane-Josh collapses unconscious. In the Further, Elise reveals that Carl is still alive and she tells Josh and Carl to return to the real world as the walls start to disappear.

Running through the red door, Carl and Josh find themselves surrounded by spirits until they hear Dalton calling out to them. Reuniting with his real dad, Dalton shows Josh the tin can telephone and they hear Renai calling out to them. Following the string attached to the can, they all follow it to return to the real world.

In the real world, the real Josh wakes up in his body and assures Renai it’s really him.

“… I want a divorce.”

After Josh says he tried reaching out to her by playing the song, Renai finally agrees it’s him, and the family hug. Later, Carl hypnotizes Josh and Dalton in order to make them forget how to travel into the Further.

Sometime later Specs and Tucker arrive at someone’s home and introduce themselves to the family. They tell the parents that their daughter, Allison’s, accident at the hospital caused multiple evil entities to follow them to their home. 

The youngest daughter (played by Jenna Ortega) asks who the lady is with them and it’s revealed Specs and Tucker are still working with Elise who is a ghost. Elise enters the house and attempts to speak with Allison who is in a catatonic state. The film ends as Elise notices something truly evil behind Allison but we don’t see what it is.

Insidious Chapter 2 Spoiler Review:

Insidious Chapter 2 is pretty good. I don’t feel like it was better than the first but it was close mainly due to us getting more backstory on who the evil bride in black was. The way the story is told interweaving the past and present, the serial killer story, bringing Elise back, and Renai slowly realizing shit’s not right was entertaining.

Unfortunately, the last third of the film feels like it needed to shoehorn in a solution because the writers wrote themselves into a corner. The first film establishes that the Further is a place where evil spirits hang out but here we see it now can also contain memories and by destroying a memory you can kill a spirit. This was never explained or hinted at and you just kind of have to accept that it’s a thing now.

The other gripe I have with how the story plays out is how easily Carl and the rest of his Scooby gang were so easily tricked into believing the spirit they were communicating with was Elise. Despite Carl being experienced and Specs and Tucker having worked with Elise, no one thinks to ask the spirit if it really is Elise.

Despite this Insidious 2 is entertaining and I enjoyed it. The acting, dialogue, and scares were good and felt pretty on par with the first… although the first had more effective tension building and that red-face demon jumpscare will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Overall I do recommend Insidious Chapter 2 as it’s an effective sequel that continues and ties up the cliffhanger of the first film.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 38%

Metacritic – 40

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