INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2
Dressing the Living -- and the Dead: Costumes
While Insidious: Chapter 2's main characters are dressed in clothing fit for a contemporary suburban California family, costume designer Kristin M. Burke also had to fashion the wardrobe for a host of apparitions and ghouls that populate the film, as well as to recreate the fashions of the mid-1980s for the flashback scenes to Josh Lambert's childhood.
"This movie takes place immediately after the first one ends and so we need to carry on that world seamlessly," says Burke, who designed the clothes for Insidious, as well as two other films Wan directed: Death Sentence and The Conjuring. "We have characters in the film from 2010, because the original movie was shot then. But we also have characters that are in The Further from the 1840s and 1860s, as well as our flashback scenes of our main cast from 1986. So we have a wide span of eras represented, which was awesome because I got to build characters into those time periods."
Burke clothed Josh Lambert, a schoolteacher, in a mixture of work and casual outfits. "He had school clothes and suits, and in his off time we had him in a lot of plaids and natural kinds of things," Burke says. "When he goes into The Further, we wanted him in red plaid because Dalton, his son, is in red plaid, and I wanted father and son to be bonded on a visual level."
For much of the film, she adds, Josh's wardrobe palette is dark because "he's not being himself."
For the character of Renai Lambert, Burke says the goal was to emphasize her vulnerability after the harrowing experiences she has come through. "We used delicate shirts and a delicate silk knit sweater, and it's all very fragile," Burke says. "So when you amp up the textures that are associated with the character you really start to feel that about them. By the end of the movie she's in very soft, very tactile, feminine clothes to up the ante on her sense of peril."
By contrast, the character of Lorraine Lambert is dark and imposing. "Ultimately, she is the strong one in this movie," Burke observes. "We used darker colors to emphasize her strength, and we gave her a green trench coat that adds a layer to her that's almost like armor. So when you see her with Rose and she's wearing the trench coat, she's the one in charge."
Burke gave ghost hunters Specs and Tucker distinctive ghost hunting attire consisting of white dress shirts and black ties.
"What we were going for was a cross between the Geek Squad and Mormon missionaries," she says with a laugh. "But they also wear their normal street clothes. For that, we have one who is really neat, clean and fastidious -- obviously Specs -- and the other who is kind of messy and sloppy -- Tucker."
Burke was also responsible for the wardrobe of a multitude of spirits and apparitions. In one scene, a group of young female ghouls who were serial-killer victims between 1970 and 1986 terrify Dalton Lambert in his attic bedroom. Some are wrapped in sheets, some in regular clothes, but all of them are dead.
"They are all dressed in the clothes they wore when they were murdered and entered The Further," explains Burke, adding she dressed each in appropriate vintage wardrobe from those eras and even devised back-stories for them. "Those storylines helped us to dress them properly, and it also helped the hair and makeup people give them a little bit more character and flesh them out to make it look more real."
For the flamboyantly evil character of Michelle, whose look was influenced by stars of 1930s films such as Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo, Burke created a custom white silk-and-lace dress.
"James wanted her to be like a sort of classic horror-movie, scary old ghost figure -- her hair, makeup, costume, everything," Burke recalls. "Since we cast a very beautiful woman in the role (Danielle Bisutti), I thought, let's make her beautiful-scary -- a little bit of Baby Jane styling. And we tried to keep all of the noise, costume-wise, away from her face because she has such a powerful look."
In addition to the serial-killer victims, the film features a collection of nearly 20 ghouls -- men and women of all ages and ethnicities who are dead but live on in The Further to torment living souls. Outfitted in costumes spanning over a hundred years from the 19th and 20th centuries, they included diverse characters such as mobsters, a milkmaid, a World War II-era Marine and characters from Dickens' England. For their wardrobe, Burke used cold, gray tones, as well as creating comprehensive back-stories for each of them -- to give the actors playing them "a sense of purpose" during their performances.
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