a critiQal film review Insidious (2010)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Shortly after a family moves into a new house, one of the sons, Dalton (Simpkins), falls in the attic and lapses into a mysterious coma the next day. After his mother, Renai (Byrne), starts seeing ghosts, her husband, Josh (Lamber), moves the family into a new house. When the ghosts re-appear, the family calls on the aide of a psychic (Shaye), who tells them their son's spirit is trapped in The Further, and he is in great danger of never being able to come back.

530 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 39s)

With Insidious: Chapter 2 beckoning to us from NetFlix®, it seemed like it was about time to check out the original. From what we’d heard, Insidious was “the most terrifying movie since The Exorcist (1973)“, so it seemed like something we’d want to check out.

Having not heard anything about what the film was about, we went in not expecting anything except to be enthralled with a good horror flick.

Would Insidious live up to our low expectations, or would this be just another over-rated Paranormal Activity (2007) copy?

Patrick Wilson has always been a decent actor, and he does a good job of leading a pretty solid cast in Insidious – although he doesn’t quite seem to believe this isn’t actually a comedy he signed up for. His character’s an unbeliever throughout most of the film, and it’s plainly evident by the looks on his face. It ends up tying in with the storyline, but the skeptical looks tend to keep making the viewer laugh, instead of involving themselves in the story.

Rose Byrne, who doesn’t have that skepticism, is able to delve right off the deep end from the start, easily accepting the supernatural events for what they are. She does a great job performing her “scream queen” duties for the film, and manages to keep the viewer interested.

Lin Shaye’s character, although serious, seems to be played for laughs, while Barbara Hershey plays the easily convinced mother – bonding her almost instantaneously with her daughter-in-law. Meanwhile, Ty Simpkins plays Dalton very straightforwardly, and actually isn’t doing much of anything for a surprising amount of the time (surprising, since it’s him looking eerie in the poster).

The laughs keep coming in this “horror” film with the bumbling sidekicks to Shaye’s medium, played by Saw (2004) alum Leigh Whannell and relative unknown Angus Sampson. Their antics when first introduced will actually produce a few barks of laughter from the audience, especially when Angus pulls out the “modified” Viewmaster as one of his paranormal tools.

And therein lies the biggest problem with Insidious. Those people who raved it was so scary seemed to have been watching a different movie, as it’s hard to tell if it’s a horror movie or a horror spoof at heart. Sure, it’s got some frightening sequences near the end, but it’s got a lot more laughs – intentional (the above-mentioned bumbling sidekicks) and unintentional (nearly every single door in the movie squeaks so much viewers might wonder why these people never invested in some WD-40) – than any viewer will expect.

Is Insidious a comical poke at the slew of ghost hunter reality shows that’s gone too far? With Patrick Wilson’s Josh in on the joke, and Lin Shaye’s Elise seemingly shrugging her acceptance, it definitely seems so. Toss in a “surprise” ending most viewers will see coming from miles away, and Insidious is a lot less scary than previewers would have you believe.

Still, even though it’s got plenty of faults, the solid cast helps keep viewers sticking around until the end, and the viewer should walk away from Insidious having enjoyed themselves – even if they did laugh a lot more than they were expecting to.

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