Review: Insidious


Directed by: James Wan
Written by:Leigh Whannell
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey
Released: May 12, 2011
Grade: B

I’m not exactly sure how much James Wan and Leigh Whannell have got in their bank accounts but I believe they’re doing very well for themselves.  These two Australians created one of the most profitable and recognisable movie franchises in recent memory.  I haven’t liked most of the films in the Saw series (it was all downhill after the squeamish original) but they continue to draw a crowd.  The last instalment (Saw 3D) took in roughly $136m around the globe.

It’s nice to see these guys sinking their teeth into something new.  They’ve crept away from the horror genre and crafted a supernatural thriller.  The film was shot in the United States but they’ve shown their support for home grown talent by casting two Aussies – Rose Byrne in a terrifying leading role and Angus Sampson in a humorous supporting role.

It begins as many of these films tend to do.  A family move into a new house and go about their life in an ordinary, everyday fashion.  Next thing you know, strange things start happening.  There are creepy noises, spooky apparitions and doors that open in the middle of the night.  It’s reminiscent of Paranormal Activity 2 and I’m sure a few scenes will leave you shrieking.

The story starts heading down a different path when one of the kids falls into a coma.  The doctors put him through every medical test imaginable and yet can’t find anything wrong with him.  Months pass and out of sheer desperation, they seek out an elderly woman who has experience in dealing with the supernatural.  What she tells the family will only add to this frightening situation…

I enjoyed the set up of the story and its characters but the film falls flat in the middle stages.  It feels like you’re just going through the motions, waiting for the big finale.  The introduction of comedy doesn’t work either.  Watching two morons stumble around the house with their silly instruments (Ghostbusters style) was an unnecessary distraction.

The ending is worth the wait.  You won’t be “jumping out of your seat” but it will keep you intrigued.  We’re almost being teased by the director.  He’s not going to show all his cards at once – Wan uses the lack of lighting, shaky camera and creepy music to keep us watching intently.  That’s about all I can say on that without giving away too much.

Insidious seems to have struck a cord with audiences.  The film has spent 5 weeks inside the top 10 at the box-office in the United States and chalked up over $50m in earnings.  When you consider it only cost $1.5m to produce, that’s a very healthy return.  James Wan and Leigh Whannell have done it again.