Josh and Renai are trying to settle into their new home with their three children. They begin to hear strange noises in the house and soon there oldest son Dalton bumps his head and falls into a coma. Doctors are unable to explain his condition and realize it has nothing to do with his fall. The frights ensue as the boy returns to in-home care until the family can no longer ignore the paranormal experiences and are forced to movie. They soon discover that it wasn’t the house that was haunted as the unexplained phenomena continue in the new home. A psychic helps them determine that their son is the root of the supernatural occurrences and his spirit is trapped in another world called “the further”.
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Angus Sampson, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, J. LaRose
Written by: Leigh Whannell
Directed by: James Wan
Maybe I’m exaggerating just a little about how scary the movie really is but I guarantee the first 2/3 of the film are eerie enough to creep out anyone. James Wan is an amazingly talented director and although it might not matter to the majority of the audience, he has been able to work wonders with low budgets. This film was reportedly made for about the same as the original Saw (which is only about a million). To get this caliber of film out of that budget doesn’t happen very frequently with a director who has already had a taste of Hollywood success excess. It’s also refreshing to see the director who jumpstarted nearly a decades worth of torture porn produce something closer to an actual horror film – without the gore or shock value.
This starts out as a traditional haunted house movie and doesn’t resort to relying on traditional jump scares and instead sets up a multitude of frightful situations. The pacing of the movie also invites a fun experience and Wan expertly introduces some subtle humor before transitioning into the final act of the film, relieving some of the tension in the audience.
Writer Leigh Whannell has done a great job with this entry into the horror genre although I’ve already heard people complaining it borrowed a little too heavily from Poltergeist. That’s a pretty common occurrence these days, films are immediately met with ire if they bare any resemblance to anything that’s ever been produced in the history of film. I for one don’t mind being told the same story twice, if you can tell it in an interesting way.
As with most films dealing with the supernatural there is always a careful line that has to be walked in order to not cross over into the completely absurd. Unfortunately, I felt the final act of the film crossed the line, though it didn’t do enough damage to make me outright hate the film. It’s a little unfortunate though since they hadn’t gone this route it would have been a movie that sticks with you and makes you question those bumps in the night. The primary demon in the movie also looked a little too much like Darth Maul which I found distracting though most people may not mind. While we’re at it I guess I can mention that the creepy old lady at the end of the movie felt like Mary Shaw from Wan’s Dead Silence.
If I’m going to nit-pick I might as well mention that it was odd that although the movie didn’t rely on jump scares there were a few moments that relied a little heavily on very loud Sound FX, which bordered on annoying.
James Wan has proven again that he has a knack for this genre and has packed the movie with enough scares to make anyone feel a little uneasy in their seat. Seriously, the little creepy ghost kid dancing through the window stuck with me. If you’re in the mood for a good scare you won’t want to miss this film – I’d say in theaters. If you do wait to rent it make sure you watch it late at night. Alone.
Insidious gets an 7.5 out of 10.