Sunday, December 8, 2019

Further and Further into Leigh Whannell's Daddy Issues

Hidey-ho, horror nuts! And Welcome to another WTFHM!!!

Sooo, before we get into these movies, I just want to send a heartfelt shoutout to Leigh Whannell – writer of the Saw series and of the movies that I’m reviewing today. What did your father do to you, my dude? Do you need a hug? I mean, seriously, there’s a lot of fatherly trauma going on in these movies. Are you okay?

I'm saying, if you’re into horror to the point where you create some form of art as a result, you’re probably not the most well-adjusted individual. Even I once wrote a book involving hentai style demon rape that I’m not particularly proud of. Call me, dude. Let’s talk about it – cold black heart to cold black heart. 

In the meantime, let’s talk about the Insidious series. Now, to be fair, this is another series I saw the first movie of and universally panned. Mostly because the ghosts and demons had Party City makeup on as opposed to actual movie special effects makeup…which I didn’t get. Still, don’t get actually. I’m saying you guys made Saw for 1.8 million and got back 103 million in gross and you turn around and make the main demon of the first movie look like a guy cosplaying as Darth Maul? 

TF? Seriously?


The Insidious Series starring Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Dermot Mulroney, Stephanie Scott, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Hank Harris, Spencer Locke, Caitlin Gerard, Bruce Davidson, Phillip Friedman, Lindsay Seim, Tom Fitzpatrick, Tyler Griffin, Joseph Bishara, J. LaRose, Kirk Acevedo, Danielle Bisutti, Pierce Pope, Michael Reid Mackay, Josh Stewart, and Javier Botet.

Okay, so these movies are kind of hard to track because there’s a lot of cross-referencing and temporal mechanic madness mixed in with the basic plot. We’re going to give it a shot though.

Part One – Or Part Three

Meet the Lamberts, they just moved into a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Everything’s going okay until weird stuff starts happening around the house. It starts off very Poltergeist-like. Nothing too big, stuff being moved around the house, etcetera and so forth. Things don’t get trippy until one morning little Dalton(Simpkins) doesn’t wake up.

His parents Josh(Wilson) and Renai(Byrne) take him to doctors and, of course, no one can find anything wrong with him. Meanwhile, the weirdness in the house is ramped up to a hundred when Renai spots a strange person in their baby daughter’s room(The baby’s name is Cali in this instance) and the alarm goes off for no reason, and something leaves a bloody handprint on Dalton’s bedsheet. 

Meanwhile, Josh is in complete denial. He basically keeps telling his wife that he believes her when she says weird stuff is happening while offering logical explanations for the bleeding walls in the house. He even stays at work all night so he doesn’t have to deal with the madness at home.

Welp, after all this his wife basically tells him she can’t take it anymore and they need to move. Now. He complies and guess what? The same crap happens in the new house.

This time, Josh’s mother, Lorraine, (Hershey) weighs in and tells them that she had a dream that there was something after Dalton. Then she sees this:

Yes. Darth Maul cosplayer behind Josh’s head, which, admittedly is pretty scary if you’re not expecting a cosplayer to pop up behind you like that.

Anyway, the demon ransacks Dalton’s room and it’s at this point that they decide to call a friend of Lorraine’s, a psychic by the name of Elise(Shaye).

So, first Elise’s partners show up Specs(Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson) to have a look around and make sure they aren’t just a bunch of nuts (a fact that doesn’t really make any sense later, by the way) and quickly find some creepy goth ghosts.

So, they call Elise in and she almost immediately spots Darth Maul in Dalton’s room. She tells the Lamberts their son astral travels when he sleeps and he’s attracted a very evil demon who wants to take over his body.

Well, Josh won’t have any of that nonsense. He calls shenanigans and kicks Elise and her crew out. Immediately after he finds drawings in Dalton’s room (that he clearly never paid attention to – Way to go Dad!) that depict him astral traveling and seeing the Darth Maul demon that Elise described earlier. He decides that, hey, maybe this whole thing is real and he ought to take it seriously.

So, he brings her back and they do a séance to try to find Dalton on the astral plane. They end up communicating with a demon (using a gas mask…don’t ask. It doesn’t come up again, really), then Dalton possessed by the demon comes in the room and throws everybody around like rag dolls.

Okay, so, it’s at this point that Elise lets Josh know that Dalton got his traveling powers honest because his father did it before. See, that’s how she knows his mom. She’s done all this before with the Lamberts when Josh was a little boy. 

Elise hypnotizes Josh to get him to go into the “Further” to go get his son’s…soul. Yeah, soul. Yeah, they weren’t really very clear on the whole Further thing. It’s another dimension where the souls of dead people are. Kind of like limbo and Hell and you can time travel in it – but we’ll get to that in the other movies.

Anyway, Josh goes into the Further and after walking into some weird dead people tableaus finds his son chained up in Darth’s dungeon. He unchains him and they run away from Darth as he chases them through the Further. Josh and Dalton get out and they all live happily ever after…

Until Elise realizes that Josh has been possessed by a whole other demon (an old woman in a black wedding dress). He promptly strangles her to death.

K. Moving on.

Part Two – Or Part Four

First, we take a little trip in the Wayback machine and get a glimpse into that time when young Elise(Seim) first encountered Josh. This information doesn’t seem important but it kind of is later in a temporal mechanics kind of way.

So, Josh is possessed, but Renai is in disbelief about it. The police very briefly investigate Elise’s death (You see, the forensic evidence didn’t show that Josh strangled Elise. Don’t know how. They don’t explain it. Whatever) and dismiss it because nobody has time to write a whole subplot about the police’s role in how a woman in a house full of people gets strangled and no one knows anything about it.

Meanwhile, Specs and Tucker go to Elise’s house and find an old tape of that time when Elise was handling Josh’s situation. Tucker takes the tape and digitizes it and sees somebody standing behind young Josh.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, Dalton tells his mother that he’s having bad dreams about a woman in a white dress AND he overheard his father talking to himself about murdering the family. Renai is pretty disturbed by this, but before she can do anything about it, the woman in the white dress shows up and pimp slaps her across the room.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, meanwhile, Lorraine goes over to Specs and Tucker’s house where they show her the tape of that time that Elise helped Josh out way back when. It’s then that we realize the man standing behind young Josh, is actually older Josh. Weird right? 

Okay, so, like hours later, Josh comes home from work to find Renai is still unconscious on the floor. He puts her on the couch and sniffs her, as you do, then goes into the bathroom and argues with himself about killing his family again. She eventually wakes up and Josh and her have a heated argument about the weird stuff happening again. Josh goes into his “What are you talking about crazy woman” routine and slowly Renai starts to get with the program that her husband is possessed. 

Quadruple meanwhiles, Specs and Tucker call their friend Carl(Coulter) – Carl who knew Elise pretty well and does psychic stuff with dice.

Yeah. Dice.

So, he tries to contact Elise’s spirit through the dice which leads them to an old hospital that Lorraine used to work at. In a flashback scene, it’s revealed that an old man in ICU was admitted for trying to castrate himself. After nearly attacking Josh (No, I don’t know why she took him with her to work that day – especially since she worked in the ICU. I mean, who does that?) Lorraine learns later that he jumps out of a window to his death two days after the incident.

Okay, so, from there, they find out where the old man lived and his name – Parker Crane – and head off to his house where they find a secret room filled with the corpses of women. They also find newspaper clippings which reveal him as “The Bride in Black”.

Yes. We’re doing a psycho thing now.

And, as it happens, The Bride in Black is the same ghost that possessed Josh.

Okay, so sometime later, Renai is just coming home from dropping the kids off with a sitter when Lorraine pulls up and tells her:

She convinces her to leave and Carl, Specs and Tucker pull up with a plan to subdue and tranquilize Josh. The plan fails. Carl goes in, tries to talk to Josh like he’s just stopping by to make sense of all this madness. Josh being possessed sees right through the ruse and attacks Carl. Carl manages to fight him off long enough for Specs and Tucker to come in and systematically get knocked unconscious by possessed Josh.

So, meanwhile, Lorraine gets a call that everything’s fine and they can come back home. It isn’t fine, of course. Josh locks Lorraine up in a closet and tries to strangle Renai to death. He might’ve succeeded, but Dalton and little brother Foster(Astor) come in and beat him off their mom with a stick. Renai grabs them and runs and hides in the basement.

Okay, so, while that’s going on, Carl wakes up in the Further and finds actual Josh, who’s been trying to contact Renai from the other side this whole time. They find Elise and the three of them decide that the only way to stop the possessed Josh is to find Parker Crane’s mother in the Further.

They go to Crane’s house and find out that his mother was a crazy woman who dressed him up like a girl and screamed obscenities at him, thus, turning him into a serial killer. So, Crane’s mother attacks Josh and Elise comes to the rescue, destroying the ghost of Crane’s mother with the power of good.

And in the real world, possessed Josh has gotten through the barricaded door that his wife and kids were hiding behind just in time to find that Dalton has decided to astral travel to the Further to find his father. Elise destroys Crane’s mother and Josh isn’t possessed any more. Dalton finds Carl and Josh and the three of them leave the Further.

Once back in the real world, Carl hypnotizes both Dalton and Josh so that they never remember they can astral travel.

Sometime later, Specs and Tucker get a call from a family whose daughter is mysteriously comatose. Elise’s ghost shows up to help.

Part Three – or Part One

So, way before all that business with the Lamberts, Quinn Brenner(Scott) shows up at Elise’s house and asks her to help her contact her dead mother. Elise, first says no, but feels sorry for her and decides to give it a go. She does and sees something terrible and tells her that she can’t help her. She also tells her to stop trying to contact her mother on her own. Because that’s bad.

Quinn goes home and the next morning, her father, Sean (Mulroney) berates her for breathing and tells her she doesn’t help out enough around the house (another stellar dad over here). Quinn ignores him as he calls her all kinds of worthless and goes to school, taking her little brother with her.

By the way, there’s a kid, Hector, who likes her that’s a neighbor, but who cares. We don’t really see him for more than a couple of scenes. He pops up so we know that she’s not going to school, but rather, going to an audition in New York. (She’s got to tell someone, right?)

She goes to the audition and mysteriously sees someone waving at her from the rafters. She does her monologue that she’d been practicing, then later, she’s sitting on the curb chilling with her friend…

Wow, I don’t even remember her name. Again, it’s not a big deal because we only see her in a couple of scenes anyway. They talk for a minute about how awful Quinn’s life is now that her mother is dead and her dad is a jerk. They get up to leave and Quinn is distracted by somebody standing in the middle of the street. She stops to look and is promptly hit by a car.

Yeah, nasty.

So, Quinn now has two broken legs and is bedridden which causes her jerk father to act a little nicer to her. Things are pretty much fine (again, little weird things happening around the apartment), but it doesn’t get real until a ghost appears in her room, picks her up off the bed and tosses her on the floor.

Now, Quinn’s father is more with the program than Josh was. He seeks out Elise who tells him like she told Quinn, she doesn’t do that anymore. She tells him that the last time she did this stuff, some demon in a black bride’s dress said she was going to kill her. (Heh, see what they did there?)

Later, Elise has dinner with Carl who tells her to man up and go back in the spirit hunting business again. He tells her that she’s stronger than the Bride in Black because she’s alive and the bride is dead so there’s nothing to worry about.

So, in the meantime, Quinn’s little brother convinces Sean that they need to call these ghost hunter guys that he follows on the internet (That would be Specs and Tucker). Sean agrees and Specs and Tucker do an investigation.

Welp, that goes south pretty quick as Quinn becomes possessed by the demon – this one is the “Man Who Can’t Breathe”. She attacks them in a pretty memorable scene involving her breaking through her leg casts and walking on broken legs.

The three of them overcome her and tie her up just as Elise arrives. Elise tells them that she’s going to go into the Further and go get Quinn and bring her back, which she does.

Okay, so first, she faces off with the Bride in Black and kicks her butt. Then she runs into her dead husband who tells her to kill herself. She doesn’t fall for it and calls out the Man Who Can’t Breathe on his BS. She gets Quinn and they run back to their bodies, but the Man Who Can’t Breathe grabs Quinn before she can return to her own body.

Quinn, left alone falls under the Man’s spell. Elise finds Quinn’s diary which has a letter from her mother in it and uses it to call Quinn’s mother’s spirit, who comes in and rescues Quinn. Elise, Specs and Tucker form a partnership and Darth Maul appears in Elise’s closet.

And lastly,

Part Four – Or Part Two

So, in the final installment, we hop back in the Wayback machine and go to Elise’s childhood. So, back in the day, Elise can see dead people. Her mother knows all about it, but her father (strict prison guard) hates all things psychic.

Elise and her brother, Christian (Pope) get put to bed one night and, Christian is afraid of the dark. So, his mother gives him a whistle and tells him that if he’s ever scared to blow it and she’ll come running to save the day.

Yes, foreshadowing.

Okay, so Elise and Christian are trying to sleep and they see ghosts and get freaked out. Their parents find them both hiding in Christian’s bunk and Elise’s father, Gerald (Stewart) pulls Elise out and canes her for seeing ghosts.

You read that right. HE USES A FRICKIN CANE ON HIS CHILD FOR SEEING GHOSTS. It gets better. He then locks her in the basement, where she encounters a ghost telling her to set him free. She does and goes into a trance.The whole thing makes such a racket that Elise’s mom comes down to see what’s going on and is promptly murdered by the ghost.

Fast forward to the present day, Elise is just going about her life as a paranormal investigator and she gets a call from a guy named Ted Garza (Acevedo) who happens to live at her old house. He, if course, is having ghost problems. Elise declines the case because, well, bad memories. She changes her mind though after talking to Specs and Tucker.

They investigate and, well, first of all, nothing has been changed in the house. It’s still the same furniture, same books, same everything. Like they just up and left with the clothes on their backs forty-something years go. Again, yet another thing they don’t really explain.

So, Elise finds the spirit of a girl that she recognized (and promptly loses the whistle that Christian had as a child) and through another trip in the Wayback machine, we learn that she first saw the girl in the laundry room of their house when she was sixteen. Her father threatened her, but…

Okay, I don’t know why this happened. It hadn’t happened before in any of the other movies, but you know that power that Eric Draven has in the Crow where he can touch you and see your memories and give you memories and stuff? Yeah, apparently, Elise can do that. She does the face touchy “All of her memories, all for you” bit and Gerald sees a clip of him dying of a heart attack. That stops him from hurting her and she runs away, leaving Christian alone with a psychopath.

Fast forward back to the present and it’s the next morning. Elise, Specs and Tucker go out to a diner and they run into two young girls one of which turns out to be Elise’s niece. They know this because all grown-up Christian (Davidson) shows up and curses the day Elise was ever born.

Elise’s niece catches up to her as he storms up and apologizes for her father’s behavior. Elise gives her a picture of the whistle that Christian used to have (it was stolen by the ghost) and tells her to show her dad.

Okay, so, anyway, back to the house they go and while creeping around, they find a hidden door in the basement (which the help of the ghost Elise saw earlier). They go into the basement and find a girl…a real live girl locked up in a room in the basement.

Garza finds them and locks them in the basement, then attacks Specs, who’s upstairs. Specs who realizes something is wrong tries to get away, but ends up dropping a whole china cabinet on Garza’s head in self-defense.

So, the police are called. The cops tell Elise that the girl had been missing for four months, but it’s a good thing they came along and rescued her. This would be a good place to end this story.

Nope. No such luck. Sometime later, Christian and his daughter Melissa(Locke) and her friend Imogen(Gerard) go back to the house after the police leave to find the whistle. The three get separated and Melissa finds herself in the basement. Where she runs into the Keyface demon who uses his key fingers to shut off her screams and steal her soul.

I rewrote that last line twice. There’s no other way to say it that makes any more sense than that.

So, Melissa’s in a coma. Elise decides to go back to the house to look for Melissa. While she’s there, she discovers a bunch of hidden belongings of women that had been taken hostage over the years and realizes that the demon Keyface had been possessing people to do his bidding for years – including her father.

I know, right? So just as she remembers that the girl she saw in the laundry room as a kid was actually a living person, not a ghost, Keyface ambushes and takes her soul to the Further.

Specs and Tucker decide they have to go after her and suddenly, Imogen has magical psychic powers. They use Imogen’s psychic powers to send her into the Further. Imogen finds a prison-like place where Keyface is holding all his tortured souls hostage – including Elise.

Elise, in the meantime, has figured out that Keyface feeds off people’s hatred. She stands up to Keyface and even the ghost of her dad fights him off. He gets vaporized like:

Okay, so Keyface attacks Elise. Imogen throws Christian’s whistle to her and she grabs it and blows on it. Sure enough, her mother shows up and makes Keyface go away.

Soooo, Elise grabs Melissa and Imogen and they make their way out of the Further and back to the real world. Elise makes amends with her brother and gives him the whistle and they all live happily ever after…

Until Elise gets a call from Lorraine about her grandson, Dalton being in a coma. Elise, of course, takes the case bringing everything back full circle.

So, this was a LOT of story for a horror movie series. Too much, in fact. I left out a lot of things because this blog is long enough as it is. Did I like this movie? Well, I guess. I mean, considering the fact that I didn’t like the original when I first saw it…and I still don’t know what the Darth Maul demon was all about.

There are a lot of unfinished ideas and plot holes in this whole thing. The pedantic grammar nazi in my brain really dislikes this movie a lot.

But I can’t say it was a bad movie. So, I guess a pink diamond is appropriate here.

Next week, I Sell the Dead…maybe. I feel like I might’ve seen this before. We’ll see.

See you next week!