Rating: 2 stars out of 5
The Stars: Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye.
The Story: School teacher Josh (Wilson) and budding musician/housewife Renai (Byrne) have just moved into a new home with their 3 young children in tow. Dalton (Simpkins), their curious and imaginative middle child, goes exploring in the attic one evening and ends up bumping his head. He appears fine at first but falls into a coma the next morning. Doctors can’t seem to find anything physically wrong with him; as his brain seems to be functioning normally but somehow he cannot wake up. Seeing no progress, they eventually bring Dalton home from the hospital, and this is when the hauntings start to get real.
The Buzz: Malaysian born, Australian bred Director, James Wan (Dead Silence, Death Sentence) is no newbie to the horror genre, having helmed the original Saw film and then continuing to serve as Executive Producer to the hit sequels. Insidious is also his fourthbig screen collaboration with film school buddy, Leigh Whannell, who has a cameo in the film.
inSing.com thinks: Director Wan may be a hack (the first Saw film notwithstanding), but at least he’s a skilled one. And with Insidious, he’s truly proven himself a master at the art of cheap manipulation. Instead of creating one of those annoyingly sloth-paced, atmospheric types interspersed with random moments of jump-scares, Wan’s latest takes you on a roller coaster ride, slaughtering your senses and punctuating your eardrums. But even though there’s some credible potential to Whannell’s script and Wan’s brand of horror-filmmaking, it falls apart so spectacularly towards the end that instead of gripping your armrest in terror, you end up laughing exasperatedly at the absurdity of it all.
To be fair, Insidious does work most effectively when trying to execute its creepiness; those sinister footsteps on the landing, eerie voices on the baby monitor and petrifying faces in the dark. It’s like Paranormal Activity on amphetamineswithout that home-video quality. The actors, while not delivering any Oscar-worthy performances, manage to convey very organic feelings of dread and panic. And for a good 45 minutes into the film, you’re pretty impressed by the number of times you’ve almost wet your pants in fright.
This is before the film attempts to explain all the creepy nonsense. Because when it eventually does, you’re bombarded by silly, ghostly apparitions and outrageously cheesy CGI that look like they belong in a bad re-make of 1982’s Poltergeist. There’s also an attempt at some comic relief in the form of a pair of Ghost Hunter techies, and in spite of their goofy antics which are admittedly rather hilarious per se, you find yourself snickering at the insipid storyline and ridiculous costumes and props.
Still, if your expectations are appropriately set, Insidious can be an amusing, group-going movie romp; one where the most fun is probably derived from observing the jump scare reactions from people around you.