I have always been against PG-13 horror movies, thinking they can never go places you’d never expect or that the violence and terror would be too tame. Insidious turns all of those notions on its side, and delivers a very scary movie that goes plenty of places you won’t expect and has genuinely uncomfortable scares, as opposed to the constant jump-out gimmick so many movies utilize. The third act, however, is a little disappointing but the film as a whole still delivers on the creepy goods and sticks with you.
Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson play a young couple, Renai & Josh, with three kids, Foster, Dalton, and a newborn girl. As any horror movie would start, the family is seen moving into a new house. It’s beautiful, it’s old, and it’s the perfect setting for something haunted. Dalton (Ty Simpkins) goes to sleep one night and never wakes up. Worried, his parents rush him to the hospital but after plenty of tests, the doctors cannot figure out what is wrong with him, he’s just simply slipped into a coma. Renai begins seeing things- apparitions hovering over her baby’s crib and a figure standing outside a window. Convinced the place is haunted, Renai convinces Josh to move. Once arrived in their new home, the haunting continues and the couple is terrified. Not knowing what’s going on, they call in a specialist (Lin Shaye), and she discovers that Dalton is an astral projector, someone who uses out of body experiences in his/her sleep to “explore” different realms. The reason Dalton is in the coma is because he’s wandered too far into the darkness and his soul and mind are in danger. Thus, Renai and Josh must figured out a way to save their son from these demons haunting them, lingering around and waiting for his body to be “released” for possession.
Insidious crawls under your skin and plants itself deep inside you, festering and oozing out all sorts of psychological creep. Director James Wan (Saw- the good one) is a very good director, using an eerie edge to his films similar to what Fincher implemented in Se7en. There’s a large attention paid to detail and sounds, drawing you only to hurl you across the room once the tables change. Sure, the jumpy gimmicks are still present and some scares are accentuated with loud music, but for the most part Insidious works slowly and burrows itself inside you. The entire idea behind the film is very original and it really changes up the idea of a haunted house story, turning it more into a haunted person tale. The entire film is full of dread, because you continually anticipate each new scare and the music has an almost-constant heartbeat to it, putting you on edge even further. It’s a great buildup that actually delivers for once and makes you hate what you’re watching. Seriously, Insidious has moments that just rape themselves into your mind, creeping you the f**k out.
Insidious is terrific for about 95 minutes. The ending leaves you very frustrated, almost hating how the entire thing is concluded. But moving past that, it’s still a terrific horror movie in a day and age where the good ones are damn near impossible to come across. Insidious is a success in large part to the direction of James Wan and the acting, led by the ever-likable Patrick Wilson, a man you want to see no harm done to but continually gets tortured, scared, or abused (see Hard Candy). I don’t scare easily. It really takes a lot to get me spooked but Insidious manages to tip-toe the line between the horrific and the cliche and deliver something worth watching. Sure, it’ll most certainly be ruined by its sequels (you know they’re coming), but in the meantime, I highly recommend it. Just turn it off when there’s about 10 minutes left.
a continued layer of horror that leaves you very uncomfortable, with a dissonant score that exaggerates the bizarre and a constant heartbeat that leaves you on edge
a few scares that get you because of the jump factor and then immediately hate because they’re so gimmicky
f**k this movie’s ending… it is so terribly lazy and reveals way too much, taking away a lot of the horror it hoped to create