Movie review of Insidious - Saw's James Wan delivers his best thriller yet with haunted house horror 'Insidious'
Bloody red claw prints that cover the walls of a child's room are just one of many clever surprises in director James Wan's screaming haunted house thriller Insidious. There are also ghostly voices, monsters in the shadows and a frightened family unprepared for what's happening in their beautiful old house.
Wan and frequent collaborator and screenwriter Leigh Whannell are the kings of splatter horror thanks to their successful horror franchise Saw. Yet it's worth noting that Insidious is the direct opposite of the Saw movies when it comes to gore. Splatter fans may miss the gross-out moments but Insidious makes up with imaginative jolts and old-fashioned chills worthy of comparisons to the Steven Spielberg-produced haunted house classic Poltergeist.
Parents Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick Wilson) find themselves in a fight with evil spirits after an unexplained accident in their attic puts their young son Dalton (Ty Simpkin) in a coma. Josh's mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) puts the distraught couple in touch with a veteran paranormal investigator (Lin Shaye) and her team of ghost busters. In order to revive their son, these parents have to fight back against the evil spirits with all they have.
Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) stands out as the disbelieving dad forced to accept the supernatural attacks on his family and his home. Wilson makes a strong hero and helps deliver the film's best shocks.
Rose Byrne complements Wilson perfectly as the at-home mom who first witnesses all the paranormal bumps and shrieks and is unsure what to do about the malevolent spirits.
Barbara Hershey (Black Swan) and Lin Shaye bring an added boost of strangeness to the adventure via their colorful supporting roles.
Still, the film's breakout star is Wan who proves that he can send audiences screaming without the need for Saw-inspired, splatter effects. In terms of scaring audiences with less, it's worth noting that Paranormal Activity creators Oren Peli and Jason Blum are producers on Insidious.
Scriptwriter Whannell supplies plenty of creepy touches involving a ghostly old woman and comically weird moments involving paranormal investigators in gas masks. Cameraman David M. Brewer and production designer Aaron Sims make great use of the old house with its darkened hallways and flickering lights.
By the end of the movie, it's amazing to see that Insidious has virtually no blood at all. However, audiences will be to busy screaming to notice.
Imagine the creators of the Saw franchise claiming they need no gore to generate scares and delivering on their promise and more.
Movie Details and More on Insidious:
Distributor: Film District
Director: James Wan
Scriptwriter: Leigh Whannell
Cinematographer: David M. Brewer
Cast: Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, Ty Simpkin, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey
Editor: James Wan
Production Designer: Aaron Sims
Composer: Joseph Bishara
Running Time: 97 minutes
Producers: Astral Films and Haunted Movies
Rating: Rated PG-13
Release Date: April 1, 2011