Director: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Wannell
What’s in that picture?
Josh and Renai Lambert are moving in to a new house with their three children. One day, their son Dalton is exploring the attic and falls down from a ladder after being frightened by something. The next day he does not wake up from his sleep and falls into a coma.
Renai starts to experience disturbing stuff in their house and believes that it is haunted by an evil spirit. She is able to convince Josh that they need to get out of their house and shortly after they move to a new place to get a fresh start. However, shortly after they find out that it was not their old house that the spirits were hanging on to, it is their son Dalton!
Insidious is directed by James Wan and the screenplay was written together with his friend Leigh Whannell. They are a very promising duo in the horror genre, being responsible for the Saw-movies which obviously had a huge impact on the genre. They also did Dead Silence, which might not have been very well received but did contains some scenes that shows that they are able to do more than just show torture on the screen. With them on this project is Oren Peli as a producer. Peli directed the first Paranormal Activity movie, another film that has had a big impact on the horror genre the last years, so this is a collaboration between some of the youngest and most promising genre filmmakers of today.
Insidious is a good old haunted house story and it is obvious that the gang has good knowledge of the popular films in this subgenre. Some might even call this an homage to the older ones such as Poltergeist, The Changeling and The Entity. One thing that the negative viewers always bring up when it comes to haunted house stories is why doesn’t the characters just get out of the house and that’s exactly what this family does. It is great to see these young filmmakers acknowledge the issues that viewers might have had on earlier movies and make them work in their own projects instead of just ignoring them.
They also know how to scare the viewer. Instead of going for quick jump scares, they instead let the ghosts lurk in the shadows and corners, creating a creepy atmosphere that lasts after the movie is over. It has great cinematography by John R. Leonetti and music by Joseph Bishara that adds greatly to the atmosphere of the film.
The movie switches up in the third half by trying to go all out and show us “The Further”, the other dimensions where the spirits live (if that is an acceptable word). Those scenes are visually great, but does not feel like they belong to the first two parts of the film and makes it a little unbalanced and off-beat. While the spirits are more hidden in the first parts, they are on full display here. It is a different type of eerie feeling and it might take some out of the film. Even though I stuck with it, I did not like the main ghost who looked like a Darth Maul look-a-like from Star Wars.
I also had some problems with the cast. I did not like Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, The A-Team) as John. He is not a bad actor and doesn’t do a bad job, but I would have liked to see another actor play that part who could bring out more sympathy for him than Wilson was able to.Rose Byrne (Wicker Park, 28 Weeks Later) as Renai was alright and the kids in the film did a good job and did not become a distraction like a lot of children actors do in horror films.
Insidious was made on a budget of only 1,5 million dollars but still feels like a big budget production. I see a lot of talent in James Wan and he is the only new director out the last 10-15 years that I am paying attention to these days. While the film does have flaws, it is still one of the best horror films from the last years and I recommend it to anyone who is after a good, solid horror movie.