Insidious is an American Horror film written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan, the same pair that brought us Saw and Dead Silence among others. As a fan of Dead Silence I was excited to see this film when it first came out and it was really hyped by friends who had seen it before me. Now before I go further I do want to state that I do recommend this film to fans of ghost/possession films as it’s well done. However Insidious just doesn’t really do it for me. I know I should like, but I just don’t. I feel it suffers from a couple of issues, mainly being over hyped by my friends. So I was expecting much more from Insidious than what it delivered.
Insidious focus on a family who, after moving into a new home, the eldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a mysterious coma. Dalton’s parents Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) are unable to wake him and after the doctors are unable to find a reason behind his condition, Josh and Renai move Dalton back into their home. Slowly Renai starts to feel something is wrong and starts seeing ghosts and have nightmares. After finding a bloody hand print on Dalton’s sheets Renai convinces Josh that the house is haunted and the family moves into a new home. At the new home the haunting continues leading to a visit from Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey). Who tells Josh and his family the truth behind the haunting as it’s connected to not the house but to Dalton. Lorraine contacts her friend Elise Reiner (Lin Shaye) and her paranormal team to aid the family as she did when Josh was a child. It’s relieved that Josh and Dalton have the ability to astral project. While in astral form Dalton has been led out into the Further and has become trapped, leaving his body empty causing his coma like state. The longer he remains in the Further the weaker his connection becomes, leading to it being able to be possessed by the demon and ghosts the are haunting the family. After being Elise is unable to rescue Dalton, she awakens Josh’s suppressed abilities and he ventures into the Further himself to save his son before his body become possessed.
Most the casting is simply top-notch, with the principle cast doing an outstanding job. The best work I would have to say is a tie between Patrick Wilson and Lin Shaye. I’ve been a fan of Patrick Wilson since I saw him Phantom of Opera, but that’s a topic for another place. He does a solid job throughout the film and carries the last part of the film and while Lin Shaye’s character doesn’t show up until the later acts, she has a great screen presence while not pulling focus. Another great pair are Elise’s assistants played by Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson. The two played off one another well, adding both comedic effect and tension.
I find the first half to almost two-thirds of the film to be a bit slow for my tastes. But once Elise and her team show up the film really starts to build momentum. The Further is some of the best cinematography in the movie, which is saying a lot as the film is very strong in that department through-out. The Further is a dark place full of creepy visuals, haunting atmosphere and incredible use of shadow and light.
Now my big issue, my real gripe with Insidious is very simple and most people I mention it never seem to notice and that’s Lorraine. She explains she locked away Josh’s memories and abilities with aid Elise when he was a child to protect him from being possessed by the ghost of a woman. Now yes that makes sense, a lot in fact except for one little tiny thing. She also states Josh’s father also had the ability, which tells me that it’s hereditary. So why did she never bring it up after Josh had kids? Especially two sons?? She knew that there was a very strong chance they both or at least one of them would also inherit his gift. So what would have happened had she died or they had moved into a different state then her? Why not lock away his abilities and not his memories or tell them sooner and introduce them Elise before these issues had arisen?
So final thoughts. While I do recommend this film, I don’t really care for it. Yes it’s well acted with great atmosphere, I just can’t get over Lorraine’s character and the pacing in the earlier parts of the film. Also I expected much more out of it, for Insidious to approach the possession story from a different angle, but instead I got the same rehash of what I feel I’ve seen before. The man still believes in white science and women have to convince him of the spirit world. Elise’s character is the same medium in every other possession film even if I do enjoy her version more than others. The only difference I felt was in that rather than a woman being possessed this time around it was a little boy. So while good Insidious does little to change-up the possession formula garnering a low score of 5/10. Again I would recommend this film to others who tastes might be less picky than mine.