Insidious (2010) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

The new episode of the Deconstructing video series digs into director James Wan’s 2010 film Insidious, starring Patrick Wilson and Lin Shaye

The episode of Deconstructing… covering Insidious was Written, Edited, and Narrated by Kier Gomes, Produced by Tyler Nichols and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

When you’re recommending a spooky movie to your friends, how would you get them interested in Insidious (watch it HERE)? How would you describe what it’s about? Maybe you’d go straight to the obvious and explain that It’s another haunted house movie with demons and kids making creepy drawings. Or maybe you’d describe it as a story about a kid who gets caught in a paranormal mind-wrestle with a monster who wants to possess his body.

In either case, you’d be recommending a movie that sounds appealing, but lacks a certain uniqueness. See, Insidious is a far more interesting film that we often give it credit for. It’s a creepy, haunting, and even (at times) deep exploration of fear and trauma that is often overlooked.

Now, of course this movie quickly became a franchise- and with that, came the unfortunate case of this movie being viewed more as an entry in the catalogue, and less as an individual piece with its own unique aspects and ideology.
This is a movie that (despite its PG-13 rating) explores dark themes that you may not see upon your first watch. But hey, that’ what I’m here for. We’re going to break down Insidious to its core and figure out exactly why all these years later, we’re still afraid of things that go bump in the night. I’m Kier Gomes with JoBlo Horror, and you’re watching Deconstructing.

Insidious is the story of Josh and Renai, a suburban family with 3 young kids- Dalton, Foster, and Cali. The family has just moved into a new home and after Dalton discovers something strange in the house, he falls into a coma as his parents begin experiencing ghostly terrors of their own and go to an infamous local medium for help. They need the help of Elise, a paranormal psychic, to send Josh into the ghost dimension and save Dalton’s life. But what they are about to go up against is much deeper than anyone could’ve thought it to be.

Now, I am going to talk more about what I think this movie is REALLY about, but before I can do that, we’re going to need some context. This movie is fairly easy to breakdown thanks to our fool-proof formula where I explain the Origin of how the movie came to be, then of course we’ll get into the legacy that the film has left, which in this case is quite hefty given the number of films there are in this series- then we’ll cleanse your pallet with some trivia before we get into the X-Factor, which is the segment where we celebrate the unique accidental successes of the movie. So, if you’re ready then stay out of the attic, because it’s time to hit play on Insidious.

Insidious Deconstructing...


Insidious was directed by legendary horror director, James Wan, who you’d know as the first director of Saw, and the underrated puppet horror film, Dead Silence. So, James Wan, while enjoying working on Saw and ultimately being happy with the film- felt that Saw’s extreme violence and bloodiness may cause certain studios and producers to shy away from working with him. He wanted to show Hollywood that he could make other kinds of movies and to do it, he decided to take on Insidious as a way to create a scary experience for audiences, while also lacking the blood and guts that studios fear.

Now, Saw was made for only about $1.2 million, which for a film that mostly takes place in a single room with a handful of cast and crew makes sense. But Insidious was made with a reported budget of only $1.5 million, but has many more set pieces, a larger cast of characters, and tons of practical and visual effects- So, the budget being almost the same as Saw but having seemingly more visual ambition would prove to be a challenge for James Wan to overcome. The filmmakers overcame this obstacle by shortening the shooting schedule to just 21 days and working long hours to get the coverage they needed. Star Patrick Wilson has recalled the intense shooting schedule of the movie and went on record saying quote: “We had long days and a lot of pages a day, and we didn’t get a lot of coverage or rehearsal. But luckily, the benefit of doing a movie that’s not on a big budget—and the reason it’s usually done like that—is so if the filmmakers feel like, ‘OK, we’re not going to sacrifice anything on screen,’ which I don’t think they have, it lets them have complete control. So we were in good hands.”

Leigh Whannell wrote the script for the movie and of course we at JoBlo Horror love this combination of writer and director. While it seems the two have been busy working on their own projects, we hope it’s in the cards for them to team up once again on a new frightening tale. Whannell wrote the script for Insidious unsure of what the rating would be, but during filming in 2010 in Los Angeles, it became clear that the muted violence and lack of goo would warrant this film a PG-13 rating, which would make it much more accessible to young audiences. And speaking of young audiences, Lee Whannell was only about a year into being married at the time he wrote Insidious, which (I think) speaks to what this movie is really about. Josh (Wilson) plays a father who works too much, but cares for his wife and kids in his own way- usually offering logic or humor as his response to the horrors ensuing in their house and eventually their other house. But the character of Josh may have something more in common with Whannell, and we will DEFINITELY be getting to that.


When Insidious was released in theaters in 2011, it was a SMASH FUCKING HIT. The movie (as we know) was made for $1.5 million and its release saw a return of $100 million all in. I remember seeing this movie in theaters and noticing the audience was mostly made up of teenagers. And as such, there is quite a bit of hype among fans of the film for the new Insidious movie which will revisit the original story and family and will be debut directed by Patrick Wilson. Hard to believe but this is going to be the 6th Insidious chapter in the franchise. The film of course was such a success that it would spawn subsequent films that have some merit of their own but that’s a topic for another show! I think what people remember most about this movie is the demon. You know the one.

Now why is Insidious still in the conversation? Why make another one? I think the true legacy that this film left behind is the endless potential of “The Further” which is basically a dimension where ghosts and demons reside waiting for their chance to crossover. This movie only scratched the surface of the unlimited curiosities that live between worlds and fans keep coming back to see where the story can go next.

There isn’t much else to say about the legacy, and let’s be honest, you all are itching for some trivia.


Did you know that the demon, the one with the boots with the fur? Well, this creepy bastard is actually played by Joseph Bishara, who you probably DON’T recognize, is actually the composer who provided the spine-chilling score of the movie. The musical themes and piano strikes add more than jump scares to the story, they create a sense of anxiety, dread, and otherworldliness that will make you shutter at every corner.

And before we move onto my theory on what Insidious is REALLY about, let’s see if you can answer this question:

Which actor was originally asked to play the role of “Josh” before Patrick Wilson was hired?
A. Wes Bentley
B. Ethan Hawke
C. Bradley Cooper
D. Rory Cochrane
Comment your answer below!

Insidious Deconstructing...


Alright, my friends… Here we are. The final showdown between me and this movie. Fans of the show will know that I love this segment. I take pride in finding deeper meaning in things that seemingly exist as a trope with no originality. And for today’s episode I thought long, and I thought hard, and I wanted to truly understand what makes Insidious so watchable and satisfying. And instead of teasing it for another 5 minutes while I praise the incredible lighting, fun cinematography and incredible set design- considering the film’s budget. Instead I’m just going to get right into it. And tell you- once and for all- what I think Insidious is really about.

SO, I mentioned earlier that writer Leigh Whannell wrote this script around the same time he was a newlywed. Well, at the time, Whannell didn’t have any kids, but being that he was freshly married, he and his wife may have been kicking around the idea of starting a family. Now, maybe I’m reaching- but here me out- has Dalton as our main character in that the entire story and the conflict within it are based around him. But the real main character of the piece is Josh Lambert. A teacher and father who loves his family but is dealing with his own internal anxieties. Josh isn’t selfish, but he certainly seems to be preoccupied with his own fears that he doesn’t seem to be communicating.

And it’s revealed near the end of the movie that Josh had been suppressing memories of his own encounters with evil spirits as a child- and had more experience with “The Further” than he could remember. This reveal ran the risk of being cheesy or highly interesting and I’m happy to say- It works.

But why would this be written into the story? Sure, it makes a good device to get Josh into the next dimension to save Dalton- but let’s face it- it’s a horror movie. They could’ve written anything into a script that dabbles in the otherworldly, but they chose- Leigh Whannell chose- to highlight Josh’s childhood trauma in a moment where the story is at its most unpredictable. Is it possible that… Leigh Whannell secretly wrote a movie about his own fear of being a father?

Look, on the surface I accept that Josh is just a prototypical horror film husband who seems uninvolved with his family and continuously gaslights his wife because he doesn’t understand the concept of scary shit happening in his own house. But if we look beyond that, we see a character who works too hard and avoids his family, and who has an unresolved trauma from his past that seems to be now tormenting his young son. And to conquer the emoji demon, to save Dalton’s life, he must confront his own haunting fears. Hell, Leigh has even publically talked about his struggles with anxiety and mental health and I think it’s fair to say that maybe he projected some of those fears (inadvertently or otherwise) into his own art.

So, is Insidious REALLY a movie about a person who is deathly afraid of having kids because they’re secretly afraid that their own trauma, their own irrational fears, their own baggage, their own bullshit- would be passed down to their children? Could it be that Whannell was really journaling his own thoughts into a story about demons and ghosts?
Or would you still describe it as another movie where a kid does makes creepy drawings?

A couple of the previous episodes of Deconstructing… can be seen below,. To see more episodes, and to check out our other shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.