A married couple's idyllic life is thrown into turmoil when their young son falls into a coma but even as they try and deal with the fact that no one understands why he isn't waking up, they are confronted with increasingly malicious supernatural forces.
What we thought
Regardless of whether you find Insidious scary or not, it's nice to see a horror film that is neither a remake (Let Me In) nor another entry into the increasingly irritating “torture porn” genre (take your pick). Neither, for that matter, is it as mind-numbingly boring as Paranormal Activity 2, nor as pointlessly nasty as something like local slasher, Night Drive. It's especially cool to note that it is directed by none other than Saw director, James Wan, who is apparently as sick and tired of “torture porn” as the rest of us should surely be by now.
What Insidious is, is a good old fashioned Poltergeist-type horror flick that is more interested in scaring you with a steadily built-up score, cheap jumps, flashes of otherworldly beings and possessed kids than in grossing you out with bucket-loads of blood, offal and innards. It is, of course, tremendously unoriginal (I do believe that the supernatural plot is taken nearly wholesale from an episode of Angel) and does resort to very obvious tricks to frighten the audience but that doesn't stop it from being an entertaining, silly-but-in-a-good-way yarn that is sure to please anyone who enjoys the more macabre side of fantasy storytelling.
However much I might be tempted to never forgive James Wan for starting the Saw series and all that it entails, he does his job well here, throwing himself into both the film's creepier moments and its undeniably camp horror clichés. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne give the film a sense of respectability and emotional gravitas without ever losing sight of what the film really is, while Lin Shaye is clearly having a whale of a time as a noticeably batty (though that doesn't mean she isn't right) medium/exorcist and she and her ghostbusting sidekicks provide suitably OTT comedy relief. The makeup, effects and art design are brilliantly handled and even if the main baddie looks like Darth Maul from Star Wars that doesn't change the fact that a large part of what makes the film work as well as it does has to do with how impressively bloodcurdling the sets and the monsters look.
Personally, I was seldom scared by the film but others in the audience certainly were and, for all of its silliness, I found Insidious to be a cracking good time. Fun, fun stuff.