Insidious, the new flick from Saw and Dead Silence director James Wan, has had kind of an odd marketing campaign, in my opinion. I don’t get the slogan they’ve been using…”Insidious is…Insidious.” Ummm….okay? Not only that, but the trailer appeared to give away what I assumed was intended to be a twist – “it’s not the house that’s haunted…it’s your son!”
With a reported budget of just under $1M, and a cast featuring Watchmen’s Patrick Wilson and 28 Weeks Later’s Rose Byre, Insidious comes to us from the producers of Paranormal Activity, and is written by Leigh Wannell, who also wrote the first three Saw movies, Dead Silence, and also stars in the film.
So with a healthy horror pedigree, Insidious really should knock it out of the park right?
Insidious tells the story of a young family who have just moved into a new home with their two sons and a newborn daughter. Renai (Rose Byme) is overwhelmed with trying to get the moved in, and husband Josh (Patrick Wilson) isn’t terribly much help, as his way of dealing with stressful situations is to just not, and he ends up spending late hours at his teaching job just to avoid dealing with the stress of being home. Unlike most horror films where we get a slow burn until the middle of the film, Insidious starts things off pretty early. Apparitions pop up almost immediately, and the couple’s son Dalton falls into a coma for no apparent reason.
As the strangeness escalates, and the apparitions turn violent, Renai convinces Josh to move to another house … problem is, like the trailer will tell you – it’s not the house that’s haunted. It’s their son.
If there’s one thing that you’ll take away from Insidious, it’s that James Wan is a damn fine director. On such a small budget, he does some amazing stuff here, and the film is genuinely creepy, and in some scenes downright intense. The acting is pretty solid all around, and the film is absolutely worth checking out for fans of the horror genre.
That being said, don’t go in expecting Paranormal Activity…or even Saw. Insidious may start out as a Paranormal Activity/What Lies Beneath type of haunted house film, where you’re looking for all the places ghosts are hiding, and keeping an eye out for any subtle differences in backgrounds and all that, it (mild spoiler) takes a turn that leads to some very Guillermo del Toro-esque visuals, and some dead on visuals of the “ghosts” that are tormenting our protagonists. As someone who prefers a little mystery in my films (I was okay not actually seeing the Blair Witch, for example), the bluntness at which the baddies are shown was a bit of a letdown for me. Again, not a bad choice for the film, it’s just not something representative in the trailers, so you’ve been warned.
Overall, though, Insidious is…insidious. Heh, kidding. No, but it’s a pretty decent horror flick and will provide enough tension and scares to make you feel like you got your money’s worth. Some striking visuals, good acting, and a solid storyline that, though it won’t change the horror genre forever, are a fine entry in a lackluster horror year so far.