Director James Wan (Saw) and writer Leigh Wannell (Paranormal Activity) knows what scares you. Their collaborative project Insidious has some the most frightening images in recent horror. Too bad the movie as a whole is a patchwork Frankenstein.
At its core, Insidious is an update of the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg 1982 scaresterpeice Poltergeist.
Instead of a cute little girl and hissing TV sets, Insidious revolves around 10-year-old Dalton (Ty Simpkins), a “traveller” who astral projects at night. It seems that a certain “insidious” entity notices that no one is home in the kids bod, and tries to use it for its own purposes. So the next time Dalton falls asleep, he doesn’t wake up.
Back on Terra Firma, his mother (Rose Byrne) is having some pretty spooky PG-13 experiences of her own as she spends the days fixing up the family’s new house. Glances, specters and doors that creek are only the tip of this paranormal iceberg.
After one freak out too many, mom demands that they leave the house immediately. In typical Hollywood dad (Patrick Wilson) tradition he balks but ultimately caves and buys the family a new house. That’s pretty impressive in these hard economic times ;). But the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the saying goes.

In the new home, one particular ghost falls for Tiny Tim’s Tip Toe through the Tulips much to the chagrin of mom. At this point it must be said that Wan is the MASTER of WTF moments. When you see this little ghost dancing to an annoying 60s tune you will be freaked out. Trust me.
Like it’s predecessor Poltergeist, Insidious brings in the paranormal investigators during Act 2 to check things out. Armed with converted Viewmasters, old Graflex cameras, and (remember that statement above) a WWI gas mask used to talk to ghosts the three investigators (Leigh Wannell, Lin Shaye and a hilarious Angus Sampson) take on the case.
No one. NO ONE in ghost movie history will ever replace the tiny powerhouse Zelda “Now lets go get your daughter” Rubinstein (Poltergeist) as a whacked out psychic, though benevolent grandmotherly Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier gives it her best.
After sweeping the house with their steampunky type gadgets, the investigators find out soon enough that what the family is experiencing is all too real. Poltergeist fans should BOLO for an awesome homage to that film’s infamous meat scene.
Unfortunately, this is about the time that this Frankenstein of a movie falters and Wan’s “Saw” mentality takes over.
Without spoiling anything, one member of the family volunteers to go “in” and get Dalton’s wandering spirit.
The magic of Poltergiest and the similarly creepy (and one of the best ghost films of all time) The Changling was what you didn’t see. Insidious makes sure that our 24-7 voyeur culture gets to see it all. And that’s a BIG minus. Because like most things the revel can’t compare to the build-up.
The twist ending is pretty obvious and confusing and “the other side” is little more then a funhouse ride of jumps accompanied by a heavy string instrument soundtrack.

By being PG-13, Insiduous forces a director known gory traps to stay within the haunted house genre, but it has a lot of flaws that if chucked out in editing (like that TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE pre title sequence) would have made this one of the best haunted house thrillers ever.
Verdict: Great date movie for 13-year-olds.

Related posts: