Film Review – Insidious

Insidious (M)

Directed by: James Wan

Starring: Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell

Two stars

Review by Julian Wright

Insidious would have us believe that there is nothing more frightening than your comatose child being haunted by a demon. Instead, I came away from this Poltergeist inspired spook-fest with the realisation that there is nothing scarier (or more irritating) than creaky doors or floorboards. The rate at which they creak in this film is enough to make anyone post a For Sale sign in their front yard.

The couple with three young children that move twice in this film not only have the misfortune of being chased by ghosties around the ‘burbs but of also moving into the noisiest houses in town. They take a step. Creak. They open a door. Creeeeak. They walk up the stairs. Creak, creak, creak. I’m pretty sure even the fluttering curtains creaked and groaned in these houses.

Like the leaky pipes and mould that tormented Jennifer Connelly in Dark Water, I thought it would be the un-oiled hinges that would drive this family bonkers faster than the demon trying to inhabit their kid. The overuse of this old haunted house cliche was not the only thing that put me off this over the top and ineffective thriller.

Troubled couple Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) have just moved into their dream, albeit creaky, house with their three young children. Frazzled Renai tends to their children and attempts to make the new house a home while Josh spends long hours at work and coming home later each night.

Middle child Dalton (Ty Simpkins) feels uncomfortable in his new room, Renai notices objects are no longer where she left them and the baby is always screaming. Something is not quite right. Tension among the family builds when Dalton mysteriously ends up in a comatose state. After more blatant creepy occurrences, Renai is convinced the house is haunted and the family moves (to another creaky house). But whatever it was that caused all the disturbances follows them.

Renai seeks help from Elise Rainier (Lyn Shaye), Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) who specialise in  paranormal activity. Elise explains that Dalton is not in a coma. He is an astral projector, able to leave his body when he sleeps and explore a parallel spirit world. Only this time he got stuck and a demon has its sights set on him.

This film has a terrific opening that depicts the stresses of having three young kids and moving house compounded with unexplained phenomena that creates plenty of sympathy for the lead characters. It is a shame it all goes to waste as this descends into inexcusable silliness. The other thing that needs oiling here is the creaky script that has some clunky dialogue.

Never one for subtlety, director (and Saw co-creator) Wan’s depictions of the hauntings eventually become far too literal to be frightening as Renai chases one spook around the house in one extended sequences that has you asking “why doesn’t she get out of the house?” Several key moments border on the ridiculous and others borrow heavily from 1982 hit Poltergeist. A prolonged ending and opening for a sequel is the nail in the coffin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: