Things that go BUMP in the night...

Insidious review

Loud noises! complained moronic meteorologist Brick Tamland when Anchorman’s arguments became too heated for his tiny brain to cope with.

He’d do well to avoid the latest from Saw writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan.

Besides a score so emphatic it could resurrect Bernard Herrmann, this slick shocker squeals and shrieks at such a deafening pitch it’s as if the taste deities are trying to drown out Renai (Rose Byrne)’s terrible ballads.

A songwriter and stay-at-home mother (momposer?) who’s just moved her family into a huge new house, Renai starts hearing strange voices through the baby monitor, followed by bangs on the ceiling.

But before useless hubby-with-a-secret josh (Patrick Wilson) can explain, their oldest son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), has fallen into a coma and hideous demons from another dimension are stomping the corridors.

Although it’s several decibels short of subtle, for its first 45 minutes, Insidious is genuinely unnerving, offering some of the best-orchestrated scares since Oren ‘Paranormal Activity’ Peli (here producing) forgot to shut his bedroom door.

Wheyfaced strangers apparate and attack in the night without warning – could this be the ultimate price for giving your kids surnames instead of first names (Dalton’s younger sibling is called foster)?

Whatever the explanation, it’s a well-oiled fright machine. If only the second half were as smooth as Wan’s Vaselined camera glides.

Dalton, it transpires, has astrally projected himself into the further, “a dark world filled with the tortured souls of the dead” according to kindly medium Elise (Lin Shaye).

Elise has had previous dealings with the family, wouldn’t you know it, but details of the further, a hokey, catch-all premise if ever we heard one, are banged home so clumsily (through Dalton’s drawings, some Photoshopped childhood photos and matriarch Barbara Hershey’s endless exposition) that the film’s cheeky homages start to feel like lazy steals.

Besides entire sequences borrowed from Poltergeist and The Orphanage, the (admittedly creepy) chief antagonist combines Darth Maul’s bright-red make-up with the razored glove of a well-known dream fiend.

Indeed, by the time Wilson’s wandering the next dimension like a long-lost elm Street dad, the further’s become a bit too far-fetched, and the soundtrack’s not the only thing that’s creaking loudly.


Promising and, in places, highly effective, this haunted-house variant more than fulfils its Friday Night fright flick duties but could have pushed through to a whole new plane.

Film Details

User Reviews

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      Apr 29th 2011, 7:59

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    • Legacy3D

      May 2nd 2011, 5:54


      “It’s not the house that’s haunted it’s your son”. The tagline from the makers of Paranormal Activity and director James Wan alongside writer of the saw movies Leigh Whannell is Insidious. The plotline follows Renai and Josh Lambert (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) and their children as they move into a new home. Everything appears normal until there older son Dalton falls from a ladder and is believed to fall into a coma which he is unable to wake up from. After 3 months of Dalton being in the coma state, Renai begins to see and hear sprits of the dead including a red demon with sharp claws. This continues until josh and Renai call Elise Reiner (Lin Shaye) someone who they believe can stop these happenings. Upon research of the house she finds the true reason why Dalton is in a coma state and why there are sprits within the house. Insidious is a mixed bag of a movie. The first half of the movie provides some jump moments plus a similar theme to the original paranormal activity. This is not a bad thing as this is what insidious was billed as upon release. The first time your see the red demon is a very jump worthy moment. However the second half is lacking scares of any kind and sometimes feels quite silly. The red demon after being seen more often looks very like Darth Maul with Freddy Krueger claws. Overall Insidious proves you with a few jump moments in the beginning and a new take of the horror movie genre, but fails to keep you interested after the first 40 minutes.

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    • ChrisWootton

      May 10th 2011, 10:29


      Jeeesus, I'm glad I didn't read the review and post before seeing the film.. well done, you've managed to completely give away absolutely everything between you. Film was good, yeah, lost it in the last third but it was pretty terrifying up until then.

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    • BobbyTwoTimes

      May 20th 2011, 10:03


      I don't normally bother leaving comments on these pages but after reading the above comment, just who the fcuk does Legacy3D think they are??! Not only have you decided that leaving a film review on a film review page is a good idea, but then you go and effectively ruin the film for anybody that reads your 'comment'. That's the sort of thing that Chris Moyles used to do on Radio 1 - it was funny once but now everyone just thinks he's a prick! Might I suggest in future you just trying leaving comments about what you thought of the film and leave out the entire story plotline spoilers, you selfish bellend!

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    • joeymac

      Jun 4th 2011, 9:24


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    • SussexUK

      Jun 5th 2011, 16:54


      HA HA!! Paranormal Activity gets 5 stars and Insidious gets 3? That is amazing. Paranormal was a terrible film, doors banging, beds rubbling for 90 minutes of utter c**p while Insidious is a great scary movie full of jump and scream moments. Yes its silly but i've not been in a cinema for many years where the whole cinema (okay mostly the ladies) were screaming out loud. A genuine great horror film and not some load of bollocks over hyped up its own a**e c**p like PA.

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    • jackcarlin

      Jul 30th 2011, 23:25


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    • thedanieljson

      Mar 14th 2012, 3:20


      The first quarter of Insidious contained some of the most terrifying moments I've ever seen on film, and is driven by interesting, and likable characters, the tension and fear driven by the family's strain under the fear of a losing a child. But from forty minutes in, it falls apart, stealing from superior films (yes, Paranormal Activity) but killing what makes them work, breaking every rule in the horror book - why does the audience need an incredibly ridiculous, long winded explanation about Dalton's ability to transcend soul plains? The less you know, the more you are scared. Which also accounts for the antagonist; the instant we see the red faced thing, all the tension is gone - and that's before we see a dreadfully rendered CGI version of it scutter across the wall - a moment which actually made me laugh out loud. And don't get me started on the ghost house in the finale of the film, which looks as if it belongs in a bad episode of Goosebumps. A terrible mess of a film, which is far too dreadful to be redeemed by it's promisingly terrifying early moments.

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