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Review: Insidious

Insidious
Mar. 31, 2011by:
8 10

PLOT: When a young couple, Josh (Patrick Wilson), and Renai (Rose Byrne) move their growing family into a new home, they become plagued by a supernatural entity that has designs on their newly comatose son.

REVIEW: In many ways INSIDIOUS feels like something of a career reboot for director James Wan, and writer/producer Leigh Whannell. I don't mean that to come off as condescending as there was really nothing wrong with their first few films. SAW was a great low-budget horror flick, and while I missed DEAD SILENCE, I really enjoyed DEATH SENTENCE, which was a lean and mean vigilante thriller in the Charles Bronson mode.


However, I absolutely hate the torrent of torture porn films that have become the legacy of SAW and it's many (vastly inferior) sequels. That said, INSIDIOUS hasn't a thing in common with the SAW series. In some ways, you could call it the anti-SAW as there's no torture, no gore, nor even any real violence. INSIDIOUS will easily earn a PG-13, but still, it's among the more frightening horror films I've seen in a while.

When a horror film is truly getting into the realm of the terrifying, gore isn't needed. Was THE EXORCIST (minus the crucifix scene) a gory film? Was ROSEMARY'S BABY? PSYCHO? POLTERGEIST? While INSIDIOUS maybe isn't quite on the same level as those titans of terror, it's still a damn good horror flick, and probably the best mainstream chiller I've seen since DRAG ME TO HELL.

It's also an extraordinarily disciplined one. For a film about ghosts, there's a complete lack of cheap scares. That means no pop-out scenes, and no soundtrack jumps. All of the (many) scares are earned legitimately through the imaginative and chilling plot, and the way the film is crafted.

Now, I didn't give too much about the film away in my plot synopsis, and that's intentional. The best way to enjoy this is to go in knowing the least about the story as possible, and hopefully the trailers won't be too spoiler-heavy. In someways it has a bit in common with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (with director Oren Peli on board as a producer), and THE ENTITY, which is cleverly acknowledged by casting Barbara Hershey in a pivotal role.

Like many good horror films, INSIDIOUS takes it's time to get started, and the only real scares come about halfway into the film. Up to that point, Wan builds the suspense by establishing mood. He's helped in large part by a very effective score by Joseph Bishara, as well as inspired use of the Tiny Tim track Tip-toe Through the Tulips.


It also helps that INSIDIOUS boasts a more than credible cast, headlined by two actors you wouldn't normally find in horror flicks. Rose Byrne, of DAMAGES, is great as the caring Mom who immediately believes there's something paranormal going on in her home. Her mounting hysteria is very well acted without ever devolving into histrionics. She maintains strength throughout, and is believable as someone who's more than willing to face evil in order to save her family.

As the more skeptical half of the couple, we get Patrick Wilson, in probably his best role since LITTLE CHILDREN. He's not at all convinced anything abnormal is happening until very late in the game. For the first half of the film, he takes a back-seat to Rose Byrne, but by the end you'll understand why they had to go with a commanding actor like Wilson. Overall, they're a very believable and strong couple, that compares favorably to JoBeth Williams, and Craig T. Nelson in POLTERGEIST.

The rest of the cast is equally good, with Lin Shaye making a particularly strong impression as the paranormal investigator summoned by Wilson's mom, Barbara Hershey- who has her own ties to what going on in the household. I also really enjoyed Shayne's investigator sidekicks, one of whom is played by Whannell himself, who bring a few much needed giggles into the intense second half.

Don't be put off by the almost certain PG-13. There's no way an R rating could possibly make this a better film than it already is. Lack of gore aside, the last thirty minutes of this film will certainly have all but the most jaded horror fans gripping the armrest of their seats, which is what these films are all about.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+15
7:34AM on 09/17/2010
Excellent review! Easily one of my most anticipated horror flicks of the near future.
Excellent review! Easily one of my most anticipated horror flicks of the near future.
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+11
8:51AM on 09/17/2010
So glad that this got a good review, it sounds exactly like the kind of horror movie I've been waiting to see.
So glad that this got a good review, it sounds exactly like the kind of horror movie I've been waiting to see.
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9:00AM on 09/17/2010
Nice to see Wan hit the mark again. Now, Castlevania.
Nice to see Wan hit the mark again. Now, Castlevania.
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1:14PM on 09/17/2010
Hopefully Wan and Whannell did not steal this piece of work from someone, like they did with "SAW".
For once; they might of actually created a good original movie.
Hopefully Wan and Whannell did not steal this piece of work from someone, like they did with "SAW".
For once; they might of actually created a good original movie.
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9:37PM on 03/31/2011
Yes, please feel free to elaborate on your silly post so people know wtf you are talking about.
Yes, please feel free to elaborate on your silly post so people know wtf you are talking about.
1:57PM on 03/31/2011
How did they steal Saw? I thought it was done off their own short film?
How did they steal Saw? I thought it was done off their own short film?
+11
1:43PM on 09/17/2010

Saw this at TIFF.

This is the real deal, people! It is one of the best horror films I've seen in ages, with a great cast and genuinely terrifying moments. If you liked The Changeling, Rosemary's Baby, or Poltergeist, you'll LOVE this film!
This is the real deal, people! It is one of the best horror films I've seen in ages, with a great cast and genuinely terrifying moments. If you liked The Changeling, Rosemary's Baby, or Poltergeist, you'll LOVE this film!
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3:34PM on 09/17/2010
This is some great news. I wanted to be excited about this movie, and now I can be. I want to be scared.
This is some great news. I wanted to be excited about this movie, and now I can be. I want to be scared.
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+6
4:15PM on 09/17/2010
You should check out "Dead Silence", its a little, creepy, chilling Old-school Horror Gem without gore or violence. This one seems to be pretty much like it.
You should check out "Dead Silence", its a little, creepy, chilling Old-school Horror Gem without gore or violence. This one seems to be pretty much like it.
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10:02AM on 09/18/2010
Finally a good review with no spoilers.

Except for "but by the end you'll understand why they had to go with a commanding actor like Wilson."
If this mean Wilson is a baddie (or was all along), shame on you.
Finally a good review with no spoilers.

Except for "but by the end you'll understand why they had to go with a commanding actor like Wilson."
If this mean Wilson is a baddie (or was all along), shame on you.
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9:30PM on 04/13/2011
Trust me, he didn't give anything away.
Trust me, he didn't give anything away.
10:44AM on 03/31/2011
I was afraid that this is just another generic haunted house movie. Gonna check this out.
I was afraid that this is just another generic haunted house movie. Gonna check this out.
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1:56PM on 03/31/2011
best mainstream thriller since Drag me to Hell. Maybe i need to rewatch that because i remembered that movie sucking major balls.
best mainstream thriller since Drag me to Hell. Maybe i need to rewatch that because i remembered that movie sucking major balls.
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1:51AM on 04/03/2011

INSIDIOUS IS

Not only terrifying, but is easily the best movie of the year. Seriously, my sister in law was crying because she was so scared. Im pretty tough to scare, but the build up of the scenes are masterful and when those moments happen it is some scary shit. Wan has made a horror classic in this day and age of MTV quick cuts, and I know the word of mouth will spread quickly on this film!
Not only terrifying, but is easily the best movie of the year. Seriously, my sister in law was crying because she was so scared. Im pretty tough to scare, but the build up of the scenes are masterful and when those moments happen it is some scary shit. Wan has made a horror classic in this day and age of MTV quick cuts, and I know the word of mouth will spread quickly on this film!
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11:14PM on 04/03/2011

Best Movie of the Year.

So far this was the best movie of the year. I was expecting an [link] horror movie and was pleasantly surprised by how scary it was and how well done it was. Definitely the best horror movie since Drag Me To Hell and had a very similar tone I think.
So far this was the best movie of the year. I was expecting an [link] horror movie and was pleasantly surprised by how scary it was and how well done it was. Definitely the best horror movie since Drag Me To Hell and had a very similar tone I think.
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