Monday, December 26, 2011

Insidious (Review)


Insidious (2011)
Directed by James Wan

Well I'm pretty late with a review for this. Part of the reason why I didn't watch this initially in theaters or on DVD was the overhype. It's on a bunch of best of lists and it's currently fresh on Rotten Tomatoes so I figure I'd give it a chance.

In any case, if you still want a review here you go. I'm going to make this quick as I know most of you have already seen it. Insidious is definitely a mixed bag for me but it definitely is slightly above average. With Insidious, James Wan amps up the traditional haunted house, flips it inside out, inserts twizzler twists and creates a genuine mythos based on extrasensory perception.

These are all awesome things and 3/4 of Insidious had me intrigued. It's when we are pushed into the boundaries of the ethereal plain and LITERALLY see the sight beyond sight called "The Further" does it all turn into a piling heap of doo doo. There are qualities of Insidious that call out "Poltergeist me!" and will always be in the back of the horror hound's mind. We see ghost/demon infiltration and we think's kinda not hard to. For all it's cheesiness, Poltergeist did it first (or mainstreamy first) and that sets the bar fuckin high.

I won't go into the plot too much. You know it. Family moves into a nice suburban home, child goes into unknown coma, weird scary jump scares start happening and a medium is brought in with her Mulder and Scully ghost hunter crew in tow. Secrets are revealed and dream worlds are seen. Cue scary ghosts and light bulbs shattering.

Performances are all OK, but the part I liked the most was the slight explanation of the phenomenon. It kind of made sense in an odd way. There hasn't been a mainstream feature film about astral projection and that should make Time Life Books proud. The old lady medium adds a flair as do the ghost busters with their PKE Meters and science gizmos. Even the initial mythos of The Further was pretty original and creative. The seance is one of the best scenes in the entire movie. I was hooked and I had this hovering around 3 and 1/2 spins, then.....

It's when you finally see the apparitions does it all look cheesy. Ghosts in bridesmaid dresses, ghosts in suits, ghosts with red war paint. The dreamworld is just our world with more tint. Why is that? Wan clearly could have figured out a way to make something unique. Even the fights between our hero father were a bit contrived.

For all that WTF, Insidious did ooze of originality and a millennial throwback to that traditional ghost story. Having seen The Innkeepers before seeing Insidious, I have a different perspective on how the generic ghost/haunted house movie can be warped into something fun and awesome. Sometimes, NOT seeing things makes the best believing. Insidious hovers like an apparition bent on wreaking havoc but in this case, only knocks a lamp over and unhinges a few picture frames.

Clearly that wasn't enough to scare me at all.


Check out the trailer.


  1. i expected a lot more from this movie. the story line was good, but the execution left something to be desired.

  2. Fully agree. I saw it opening night with NO expectations and was pleasantly surprised, although those last 15-20 minutes still sat awkwardly for me as well. I rewatched it last month and found the good held up strong and the bad remained the bad. A little frustrating, but still a good watch and a great example that theatrical horror can still be quality.