Film review: Insidious (2011)

1 May

James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the two Melbourne lads who wrote and directed Saw and then sold the franchise to America, are back with another thriller.

Insidious opens with Josh (Patrick Wilson), Renai (Rose Byrne) and their young children- Dalton (Ty Simpkins), Foster and baby Kellie- who have just moved into a new house. From the first night odd things begin to happen; books are rearranged, Dalton falls off a ladder and into a coma, Renai hears noises over the baby-monitor and the house alarm is set-off for no reason. Thus, they move, and it is with this move that the film starts to unravel.

Whether intentional or not, the film is split into two parts; the first house and then the second. The first house is filled with dark rooms, claustrophobic shots and a constantly moving camera, all adding to the legitimacy of Renai’s paranoia. The filming in the second house however is staid, Foster and Kellie seem to have been forgotten about, and Josh’s mother appears with a story of the past and her friend Elise (horror film regular Lin Shaye).

Following Elise is Luke Whannell and Angus Sampson as her comedy-duo sidekicks who constantly bicker over who is more important and who Elise needs more. Cue the mother who knows the answer; cue comic banter to ease the tension; cue the elderly woman who has knowledge of things Unknown; cue the smoke machines.

From Elise we learn that it is not the houses that are possessed but Dalton himself who got lost whilst astral projecting in his sleep and can no longer wake up. What follows is a new-look séance, many different photography cameras and Josh being sent into the netherworld to bring back his son.

Insidious is not a bad film. Having been made on US$1.5 million it uses CGI well and there are moments of real tension- especially felt through Byrne who, having not been given much to work with, does a wonderful job. Yet this film will not stay with you and for me, when a film, especially one of horror/thriller/suspense, stays with you then they have truly accomplished something. Unfortunately, this was not it.


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