The horror addicted trio of James Wan, Leigh Whannell and Oren Peli have already terrified thousands with their respective franchises. Of course i’m referring to their masterminding of the blooksoaked seven parter of Saw and the soon to be trilogy of Paranormal Activity. With ‘Insidious’, they attempt to breathe new life into a familiar setting and a trademark of bygone genre entries including Poltergeist, the haunted house.
The story revolves around the seemingly happy couple of Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) and their three content children having to move into new rented accomodation. As you’d expect with such fare, the surroundings they have to adjust to suffer from distinctive irregularities. It has a basic old school look about it, the stairs consistently creak, we have the creepy antic that no one ‘dare’ check out and then there’s Byrne’s attempts to be a talented singer songwriter with a piano in tow. You can be open minded about how terrifying the latter statement is..
Events soon take a sinister turn when after a barrage of peculiar noises through the baby monitor raise Renai’s suspicions, a horrific ‘accident’ occurs. Their eldest son can’t resist a delve into the attic and as a result enters a coma that spans over a three month period. They soon discover the root to the problem that they are dealing with powers that are not of this world, paranormal entities who’ve decided to emotionally torture him. Queue the entrance of genre stereotypes, a duo of Ghostbusters rejects with a dry sense of humour and the overbearing and self righteous mother (here played by Black Swan’s Barbara Hershey) as they seek to free themselves of such activity.
It’s a cliched premise for sure, but the first half of the film builds slowly but impressively, thanks to a chilling and overpowering musical score. A consistent hit ratio of sharply executed jolts of shaky cam style terror straight out the maker’s back catalogue really help the atmosphere it tries to conjure up also.
But as it piles on the gimmicks, the film soon ties itself up in knots with its half baked attempt at paranormal mythology and loses a sense of real direction by the time the ‘big twist’ finale comes around, by descending into a rather silly affair. Byrne and Wilson are certainly a talented pairing for such material, so it’s a shame they end up fighting a losing battle with the plotting.
Insidious whilst fittingly creepy and fun for the most part and solid proof that James Wan is indeed one to watch within this genre, the film ultimately suffers from a misguided final act.