Floating catatonically between William Castle’s macabre fun houses and Guantánamo sensory torture, James Wan’s bombastic continuation of his 2010 ghost story reunites viewers with Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne), the suburban couple who outmaneuvered specters and retrieved their son from a metaphysical limbo. The follow-up floods the original’s haunted-house concept with mythology and ups the ante overall, shotgunning in even more spirits, mysteries, twists and jump-out-of-your-seat scares. Apparently, when ghosts slip back into the world of the living, they love slamming doors.
Wan can stage legitimate terror (check out The Conjuring for further proof), and he sends chills up the spine whenever he sidles up to a child whispering with the dead or follows his hero around some Lynchian netherworld. But despite the goose bumps, Chapter 2’s real currency is cacophony: Byrne is continually pummeled by the sounds of a baby bouncer from hell, and every subplot comes with its own set of screeching violins. Even before Wilson goes full Jack Torrance and Barbara Hershey shows up to investigate an abandoned hospital Scooby-Doo-style, one could technically call this sequel a gorefest—thanks to the guts of every other horror movie being splattered across the screen.
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