Insidious (2010) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Insidious (2010) Review

Horrorific content by Ciarán Coleman on October 01st, 2021 | Movie Review | Possession, Haunted, Supernatural, Demon

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It’s about a family's struggle with evil forces after the eldest son enters a comatose state and falls prey to a variety of malevolent entities.

Directed and written by horror legends James Wan and Leigh Whannell (the duo behind ‘Saw’ and ‘The Conjuring’ universe), ‘Insidious’ was at the forefront of the 2010’s dive into demonic and supernatural horror, as opposed to the slasher craze of the early 2000’s. The film stars Patrick WilsonRose ByrneTy SimpkinsLin Shaye and Angus Sampson among others.

It's not the house that's haunted.

Insidious Review

Though far from the most original horror ever made, Wan and Whannell made good use of classic horror effects and tropes to create an effectively creepy film. One of these tropes is the haunted house setting dominating ‘Insidious’ runtime. Wan went on to perfect the haunted house elements he tried out here in ‘The Conjuring’ with less dependency on shrieking bangs and dull lighting. Still, there are several really well done jump-scares and your eyes quickly adjust to the bleak, grey colour palette. The classic creaking and banging married with doors opening randomly and ghosts wailing is reminiscent of countless horror films before and after, but ‘Insidious’ does stand out with its consistency. The tone is refreshingly solid.

The music is brilliant throughout. The spine-tingling violins are pure mid 20th century horror and leave a distinct amount of goosebumps before the scary parts even get going. That is, if you watch it at the right time. At night, the music has its desired effect but I’ve also watched this film during the day and the overwhelming orchestration was almost comical.

‘Insidious’ is reminiscent of a few Hitchcock films and silent films from the 30’s, though the similarities get buried beneath some lazy writing and needless family drama. There’s a gothic undertone that unfortunately never gets explored properly either.

Patrick Wilson is great as usual and dominates every scene he’s in. Rose Byrne’s performance is far from bad and she plays the caring mother brilliantly but you can’t help but feel she’s a little out of her element when the horror really starts. Lin Shaye, however, is excellent and brightens up the film alongside Liegh Whannel and Angus Sampson, who provide an entertaining portrayal of her coworkers.

The first and second act are paced well and you’ll find yourself more than happy to be carried along from scene to scene. The third act is not as fun, especially on repeated viewings and seems to lose any sense of restraint. It’s not boring but a lot of the spookiness established gets thrown out of the window for a bit more action. Bar a brilliantly designed demon that lives up to the fear centered around him, the final thirty minutes would have benefited from a little less spooky showboating and a few more actual scares.

Still, Wilson’s acting and Wan’s tight, if a bit stale, directing keeps the film flowing and entertaining. The design of the evil entities and the astral dimension are by far some of the most interesting designs of Wan and Whannells career. Despite the bland colouring, the film is oddly charming in a way only Wan can make it. The gothic simplicity gives it an almost punk edge over similar films.

Worth Watching?

Definitely. Though riddled with flaws the overall film is entertaining and captivating, with strong performances and set pieces that make it memorable and oftentimes, genuinely scary. Don’t expect anything ground-breaking and you’re left with a really solid horror film.

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