DVD Review - Insidious

If you were hoping for the better-than-average movie about ghosts and demonic invasions, it won't be found here. It's a delivery of those movies briefly one after the other, making the whole lesser than its parts.

First, it delivers The Amityville Horror. Then, it delivers Poltergeist. Finally, it delivers a little of The Exorcist. The main elements from those movies are easily recognizable. The filmmakers run through those elements with little regard for its characters, which leaves its audience with barely any investment.

Director James Wan does provide some creepy atmosphere. His cinematography and editing gives it a momentum after the opening ten or fifteen minutes that is never boring. He starts with a series of black-and-white photographs of the house's interior. The photos have a spotlight with feathered edges. Later, when Wan's camera is moving in the house, its angles in general always make for something interesting in the frame.

Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy and Little Children) stars as Josh, a teacher who has recently moved into a new house with his wife, Renai, played by Rose Byrne, and his three kids. His youngest is his baby daughter, Callie. She just cries a lot, but there's also his two sons. His youngest is Foster and his eldest who's only about eight or nine is Dalton, played by Ty Simpkins.

Things go from bad to worse when Dalton falls into coma that the doctors can't explain. Josh and Renai bring Dalton home and while the kid remains comatose for months, ghostly activities swirl around him, each more terrifying than the last. Eventually, a psychic is brought to help assess the situation.

A seance of sorts is held to fix the problem. It begins bizarrely but all Hell breaks loose. Wan directs the growing tension pretty brilliantly with little more than flashing bulbs and chalk writing on a notebook. It escalates into chaos that is probably the funnest this movie ever gets.

Yes, the ending is a little chilling, but it comes out of a revelation that isn't really setup or foreshadowed well. It's an explanation that's out of left field. Initially, the obvious debate is whether Josh believes in the revelation or not. Josh and Renai fight about it in one scene and the next scene he's on board with everything. A secret is then unleashed. It's a surprise that deserved a bit more clues, if only to give more depth to the character of Josh.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for terror and brief strong language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 43 mins.


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