Movie Review: Insidious

PrintE-mail Written by Paul Mount Sunday, 08 May 2011

Movie Reviews

Lukewarm on the heels of the phenomenal Paranormal Activity and its slightly less phenomenal sequel comes Insidious, a haunted house horror courtesy of James Wan and Leigh Whannell who previous created the Saw franchise for which I’m sure we’re all eternally grateful to them. But where the Paranormal Activity movies were subtle slow-burners, scaring their audiences with bumps and thumps, Insidious throws away its affectations towards similar sophistication roughly halfway through with the introduction of a couple of knockabout comedy ghost-hunters and a boggle-eyed medium. Insidious thereafter becomes  a sort of Paranormal Activity on crack and the audience can relax as it all starts to get a bit silly.

Chased out of their previous home by supernatural doings, Rene (she’s a stay-at-home singer-songwriter Mom), her husband Josh (he works too!) and their three kids move into a new house but once again there are spooky-dos afoot and for the first half-hour or so the film seems to be following a familiar, edgy path as things go bang and doors mysteriously slam shut. But when their son Dalton (that’s a surname, surely?) takes a tumble and falls into a coma the film has nowhere else to go so it brings on its bumbling ‘ghostbusters’ and a friendly medium along with some rather more blatant manifestations of the tortured demonic souls who have whipped Dalton away into the astral plane. Dad Josh realises the only way he can rescue their son is by joining him in his dream world where he finds himself in a rather more mundane physical battle with the raging red-faced demon which has been popping up here and there and wiggling its talons.

Insidious borrows from just about every haunted house movie you’ve ever seen but there are still some decent scares along the way before it all starts to wobble; the sequences with a midget dancing to Tiny Tim’s memorable rendition of ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ are especially disturbing for all sorts of reasons. The film’s slightly bleached, underlit look is initially disorientating before it becomes plain irritating but on the plus side Rose Byrne is always watchable and here she gives Rene a much-needed grounding in the real world when all around her is becoming increasingly outrageous.

In retrospect, Insidious sets its stall out from the off with its blood red title logo and  big, crashing musical sting which Bernard Hermann himself would have been simultaneously proud and ashamed of. If you’re in the mood for a few unsubtle scares and cheap thrills, Insidious is the one for you. Enjoy the ride for the first forty minutes or so and then surrender to the inevitable as the film slowly starts to go entertainingly bananas.

Expected 6

Actual rating...

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