PG Cooper: Insidious Review

Posted: July 13, 2011 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Release date: April 1st, 2011

Written by: Leigh Whannell

Directed by: James Wan

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, and Lin Shaye

Insidious is a movie that I missed when it first came out in theaters.  It’s not that I didn’t want to see it, but I just couldn’t get around to it. I was really interested in the film though. I knew it came from the same writer and director as the first Saw film and the trailer really drew me in. Then HT Schuyler wrote a glowing review for the film and really made me realize I should check this out. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t say I share the same enthusiasm that Schuyler does, but I do enjoy the film.

The plot revolves around an average family who have just moved into a new house. Shortly after arriving, their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a sort of coma. Months later, the mother Renai (Rose Byrne) starts seeing things ranging from objects moving by themselves to ghost like entities walking through the house. She begs her husband Josh (Patrick Wilson) to move and he agrees. But the events continue at their new house, and they are told by a paranormal expert, Elsie (Lin Shaye), that it isn’t their house that’s haunted, it’s their son.

The thing that impressed me the most about this film was just how scary it was. Director James Wan did a very good job with the tone and atmosphere of the film. The film is dark, creepy, and really keeps you on the edge of your seat. The film also has a relatively fast pace, at least based on what I was expecting. Usually haunted house films spend a lot of time showing arbitrary objects such as chairs or doors moving by themselves. While there is that in this film, it doesn’t waste time before s*** gets really crazy. We’re not sitting watching objects move for an hour before things start to actually happen.

Most of the actors do a decent job. The chemistry between the family is good, and they do feel like a genuinely loving family. The first half of the film mostly revolves around the mother, and the second  mostly focuses on the father. Both do a competent job, with the mother being the scared character, and the father being the skeptic. Liv Shaye is also good as the paranormal expert who helps unravel the mystery for our leads. The cast does have it’s weak links though. Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell (who penned the script) play two bumbling assistants to Liv Shaye. They mostly serve as annoying comedic relief. Their first appearance of these characters is especially jarring as it completely throws off the mood. The film had, at the time, hit it’s peak as far as tension goes, and then immediately after we’re introduced to these two idiots. I guess the idea was to give the audience time to breath, but it really doesn’t work.

Whannell may flounder as an actor, but he did write a solid script. I found myself constantly interested in the script and wanting to watch the story unfold. With that said, the script does have one fatal flaw: it never surprises you. I was interested in the story, but everything played out more or less like I expected. Even the final twist is just a variation on what I thought they were gonna do. Another thing I find disappointing is the film doesn’t leave any mystery in the story. There’s nothing to wonder about or interpret, and this is the type of film where I want to think about things like that. But everything is spelled out for the audience.

Wan does a good job with the film, but I feel he goes too far off the rails in the third act. At first, it started out pretty cool. But during the climax, the film becomes so absurd the horror is lost and it just becomes silly. This is really evident in the film’s main villain (for lack of a better term). He looks completely ridiculous and I wish they went with a more minimalist approach. The film was shot on a very low budget, but it works fine for the film until we get to the climax. It’s just so over the top, we even get some wonky CG. If you’re working with a low budget, keep it simple.

All in all Insidious is an effective horror film. It doesn’t excel greatly in any area, with the possible exception of James Wan’s direction, but it is a scary film, one that kept me entertained throughout. If you’re looking for a good horror film, than it’s definitely worth a rental.

Rating: B

  1. Sounds as if its ok to wait til it hits cable then, thanks.

    I’ll pass it up on DVD til I see it first.

  2. paolocase says:

    The ending made me feel like James Wan’s favourite movie is Suspiria and that it disappointed me. Those two things aren’t related, just the execution had merits but wasn’t good enough.

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