Insidious starts with the Lambert family in a new home. Apparently this is a family where mothers wear the same pajamas as their children, but that's not where this movie even begins to get creepy.
|Am I the only one who was bothered by this?|
|If he was in college, his friends would probably have written "penis" on his forehead|
|Divorce is also an option|
The acting in Insidious is better than a movie from the makers of Saw deserves. While I have never been a Patrick Wilson fan, he is completely adequate in this role. He has the fairly thankless task of being the rational person in an irrational world, and he's not half bad. Rose Byrne gets to freak out a bit more, and she still managed to not be annoying. That makes two main characters in a horror movie that I didn't actively want to see die. Not too shabby. The kids were fine, neither too annoying nor too whiny.
Lin Shaye had the difficult exorcist role, and she was pretty good, although not the scene-stealer that I think the part could have been. Barbara Hershey was decent in a small supporting role, even if she primarily just provided exposition.
I was surprised to find that director James Wan was capable of using smaller scares effectively. While that didn't translate into a film that was completely even, it was a pleasant surprise. Wan is not the most delicate of directors, but he managed a solid cast and made a movie that was pretty close to being good. Where Insidious really stands out is in the type of scares it provides. You might think that this team of filmmakers would make a gory ghost story, or at least one filled with "gotcha" scares, but they actually do a pretty good job building and utilizing suspense. For most of the film, the ghosts are rarely seen, but effectively used.
|They're being haunted by a Sith Apprentice!|
The final act is a pretty huge problem, though. After spending a lot of deliberate time and effort building an effective horror story built on suspense and mystery, the filmmakers take a left turn and spend the final act as a supernatural action movie. Remember all those ghosts that were really creepy when you only saw them for a split-second?
|Is this the Black Hole Sun music video?|
|Answer: childhood coma caused by ghosts and demons|
|"Leave me alone"? Why didn't the kid think of that?|
The twists in Insidious feel like the filmmakers were suddenly unsure of the direction they had taken the story in up to that point. I would have loved to see the story follow that original tack and have a satisfying ending, but it was not to be. For every dumb idea that should not have worked (the exorcist's gas mask) but was effective, there was a stupid plot point* that undermined the film's credibility. Insidious isn't bad by any means --- my wife certainly won't be watching it anytime soon --- but I was ultimately disappointed.
* Okay, so Patrick Wilson's character doesn't believe in the crap being peddled by the exorcist, right? Of course not. Then he goes into his son's room and notices Dalton's drawings plastered all over the wall. Many of them support exorcist lady's claims! Here's why that is stupid: this is a new house. Dalton hasn't been putting up his own pictures on the wall. "Maybe someone else put them up for him." Fair enough, D. Advocate. But these pictures are arranged in a haphazard fashion, all over the wall, spilling out from the bulletin board that was clearly designed to be the place for artwork. I refuse to believe that any parent that has the option of arranging their child's room would choose to make it look sloppy. And it's a little suspicious that every drawing Dalton drew apparently had a deeper meaning to it.