Insidious review

image from Insidious

JAMES WAN and Leigh Whannell are names anyone who enjoys horror will recognise.

Wan directed the first Saw movie while Whannell wrote the first three…before the franchise took a drastic nosedive off a cliff.

So with their new film Insidious, you would think it would be safe to assume they might stick with that successful formula of blood and gore.

However, that assumption would be wrong.

Insidious is a terrifying ghost story about a haunting although this time, the twist is that it isn’t a house that’s haunted…it’s a child.

The Lambert family have just moved into a new house. Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) are just settling into their new home when their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) suffers a fall in the attic and soon after falls into a coma.

Doctors rule out any head trauma, telling the distraught couple they can’t understand what caused the youngster’s coma.

Three months later and Dalton is still no better but is being treated at home. Soon after strange things happen in the house and it’s not long before all manner of scary goings on force the family to move, thinking their house is haunted.

Sadly for them, it’s not the house that’s scaring the crap out of everyone. It’s spirits trying to take over Dalton’s body. You see, it turns out the boy is there in body, but not in soul. His soul is trapped in a place called ‘The Further’.

This leaves his body available for entities to try and make their way back to the living world. As the family struggle to deal with the terrors in their house, they call in paranormal investigator Elise (Lin Shaye) to help save their son.

Insidious works on so many levels thanks, in part, to the fact you care about the Lambert family. The first third of the film is used to get to know everyone, so when things start to go wrong, you care about what happens to them.

The other major parts that work are the scares. Wan and Whannell know how to rack up the tension and leave an audience squirming and screaming. So many of the set-ups for frights seem obvious yet when it happens it still feels unexpected.

And the light relief brought to ease that tension by Elise’s sidekicks Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) is very welcome.

The final third of the film is reminiscent of work by Sam Raimi, as is the loud skewed soundtrack.

Given that the film was made on a micro-budget (Wan hinted it cost $1m and was filmed in just 22 days) everything combines to create an impressive scary movie that will send shivers up your spine and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

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