After watching “Insidious,” I am reminded of why I will never own a home with an attic.
Directed by James Wan — who created and helmed the original “Saw” — “Insidious” manages to produce more frights than “Paranormal Activity” and the sequel combined. The reason for this? “Insidious” goes a step further than “Paranormal Activity” by revealing the thing that goes bump in the night … in an unsettling way … that will leave most on edge by the time the credits roll. By the way, sit through the credits — if you don’t you will miss one final scene.
The plot of “Insidious” is simple and familiar: a family is being haunted by spirits. When first we meet the Lamberts, they’ve just moved into new house, complete with creepy attic. Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) is the perfect dutiful husband to his songwriter and stay-at-home wife Renai (Rose Byrne), who takes care of their two boys and infant daughter as he teaches. Right away, we are clued in about the ominous presence in the house. Books, after Renai had placed them on a shelf, somehow end up strewn about the floor.
Things really start to get crazy after the Lambert’s eldest son, Dalton, lapses into a coma-like state. In a scene that elicited one of the loudest reactions from the packed theater, Renai runs upstairs to her daughter’s room to investigate a threatening voice she heard from the baby monitor. After removing the distraught infant from the crib, she checks just about every nook and cranny of the nursery, and just when we think the coast is clear, we catch a glimpse of something evil.
Eventually, the family moves into another house, but things just get worse. Enter psychic Elise Rainer, played to the utmost startling perfection by veteran actress Lin Shaye. Called upon by Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey). Elise along with her two assistants Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) investigate the Dalton’s new dwelling and draw a most terrifying conclusion. Dalton is the one haunted, not the house.
More jumps and scares follow as we watch the pair of Ghostbusters and their mentor Elise (who reminded me of Zelda Rubenstein from “Poltergeist”), attempt to exorcise Dalton of his ghosts.
What I enjoyed most about this film was that it felt like an old-school horror flick. Unlike Wan’s “Saw” series, which relies heavily upon gore to scare the audience, “Insidious” achieves the same effect with suspense. Granted, I did chuckle every now and then at some of the campy effects, and at times the choices in make-up yanked me out of the moment into another galaxy (two words: Darth Maul). Yet, even with those distractions, I still had fun and would certainly recommend this film to others.
An inexpensive film to make, the production budget for “Insidious” was a mere $1 million and it raked in $13.2 million opening weekend — so, expect a sequel by next Halloween. In the meantime, go see “Insidious” in a packed theater. Audience reaction makes the movie all the more enjoyable
“Insidious” is in theaters now.
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