{2jtab: Movie Review}

insidious - Movie Review


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4 stars

Putting aside the bone-splitting and gory implements of the Saw franchise, those same writers give their audience the most terrifying thing of all with Insidious: the unknown. Since comparisons will be made by those in the know, let me just go ahead and suggest to you that Insidious is the more nightmarish version of Poltergeist than its adverts lead you to suspect. It is richer in atmosphere and old-school haunts than that powerhouse from 1982 and provides a demonic and budget-friendly look inside the lair of its goulish oddities in ways that Poltergeist never did.

The monetary successes of the Saw and Paranormal Activity franchises have left its combined creators, James Wan and Oren Peli, with little to prove. Yet, they deliver anyway with a film that is scarier than hell. Operating on a whole different level of scare and spooks, Insidious eases into its storyline about haunted houses and wandering human spirits with the grace and smoothness of horror films from a by-gone era.  Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) have just moved into a new house in California. Their three kids are more than a handful for them – financially (Mr. Lambert’s only a school teacher) and emotionally (Mrs. Lambert seems to be suffering from a sort of post partum depression) – and, when their young son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a coma after witnessing a strange happening in the attic, their bond is tested by the spooks that seem to crawl out of the woodwork on an almost nightly basis.

Thing is, it’s not just the house who is at fault here.

The Lamberts do what most families don’t do in these Hollywood haunts until the end of the movie; they move. A sound and wise decision, yet the strange haunting – now accompanied by Tiny Tim’s version of ‘Tiptoe through the Tulips’ – continue to plague the residence. In fact, they get worse – connecting the new home with the one they just vacated. Josh’s mother (Barbra Hershey) decides to call in reinforcements to help her son’s family out and enlists her friend Elise (Lin Shaye) and a team of ghost hunting experts, Specks (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Tucker), in the battle against whatever hellish fiend it is that torments them.

Churning out scare after scare in a delicious spin of well-paced frights, Insidious takes its chances in being relatively subdued in this modern age. This is your traditional tale of haunted horror; the type of narrative they don’t really make anymore. Oh, it has its modern mojo working, though – creating a new character that is bound to replace the revered Jigsaw of the Saw franchise for horror aficionados. The script, written by Whannell, certainly is every bit of a spine-tingling potboiler. Scares build upon each other and houses groan and creek appropriately until what the audience can’t see becomes what terrifies them.

Everything works to make this an unforgettable take of haunted astral projection across the (and into) The Further…until the final few minutes. That’s where things get a little out of hand and quite maddening. After successfully departing from the haunted house formula, Insidious makes its way toward a lone demonic positioning. We grant it that and remain terrified, yet it can’t call it quits when it needs to and goes for the unsettling cliffhanger instead of just unsettling. Remember, guys, less is always more and – with a few quick edits – this film could have landed a great and poignant ending instead of the greedy “gimmie another film now” ending we get.

Yet, the intelligence of the genuine horror wins out. I’m sure some folks will be dismissive of this trek through the haunted halls of horror’s past as they were with the duo’s Dead Silence – a film steeped in atmosphere and genuine creepiness – yet Insidious is so much better than what the studio actually thinks they have. One look at the trailers post viewing of the film tells you that. This isn’t just for horny teenagers. In fact, I’m sure most pimple-faced teens will be plumb bored by the slow pacing of the first half of the film.

Trading camera gimmickry and ‘found’ footage for some good old honest tension, Insidious is one hell of a good fright at the movies.


{2jtab: Film Details}

insidious - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material, violence, terror and frightening images, and brief strong language..
: James Wan
: Leigh Whannell
Patrick Wilson; Rose Byrne; Ty Simpkins; Andrew Astor; Lin Shaye; Leigh Whannell; Angus Sampson
Genre: Horror | Fantasy | Thriller
Memorable Movie Quote:
"It's not the house that is haunted. It's your son. "
Official Site:
Tagline: "It's not the House that's Haunted."
Release Date: April 1, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
July 12, 2011
Plot Synopsis: The movie tells a different kind of haunted house story, one in which a family trying to escape a haunting and save their son discover—it's their son, and not their house, that's being haunted.


{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Review}

Insidious - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars


Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 12, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English, English SDH, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live
Playback: Region A

Shot digitally, Insidious lacks warmth and yet it provides a great and chilling atmosphere. The 1080p transfer is cold and edgy with near-fine detail. Its haunted interiors are sharp and unsettling and coated in a blue-gray film that no blanket can ever make warm. It’s a perfect look for a haunted house movie.  Some of the colors have varying degrees of intensity, but that could be due to artistic choices from its filmmakers. Sony’s  DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is a great time, too. Balanced and pitch-perfect, the creepiness that is Insidious sounds as HD scary as the film actually is.



  • None

Special Features:

Sony seems to be treating this film with a cold hand. There are only three items of supplemental fancy here and they aren’t very attractive or informative. There’s a brief look at the nonhuman characters that haunt the film and a brief conversation between Writer Leigh Whannell and Director James Wan, but nothing really too important.

  • Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar (11 min)
  • On Set with ‘Insidious’ (8 min)
  • ‘Insidious’ Entities (6 min)


{2jtab: Trailer}