Published on March 31st, 2011 | by dvdpinson0
In certain circles, having James Wan (director of the first “Saw”) join creative forces with Oren Peli (director of the first “Paranormal Activity”) is as exciting as Steven Spielberg matching up with J.J. Abrams for the upcoming “Super 8” project. For some faithful Horror Fans, Peli and Wan are considered titans of the genre with distinctly different styles that effectively frighten. The end product of their partnership is “Insidious,” a wicked little movie that culls the best from both filmmakers and delivers plenty discomforting chills.
The synopsis might seem a little familiar: Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) have just moved into a new home that has plenty of your standard “scary movie” issues for them to deal with. There are the unexplained noises, a creepy attic and, for some reason, their little baby won’t quit crying. Along with the screaming enfant, the Lamberts have two young boys, neither of which seem to like the creaky old house either. While exploring the aforementioned creepy attic, the oldest boy, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), falls from a ladder and sees something that he is unable to explain in words. The next morning, Dalton is discovered to be in a coma. Three months later, the child is still in the deep slumber and no doctor can tell why.
Worst yet, there seems to be unwanted visitors that come to the house at all hours of the night. Renai has heard footsteps and Josh investigates a knock at the door to find no one waiting at the doorstep. It all seems to be related to the ailing boy and when someone is found lurking in Dalton’s room, Josh and Renai must face the fact that someone, or something, wants Dalton for their own.
“Insidious” starts out very simply and even paced. The opening credits are straight out of a horror film you’d see produced in the seventies and that affect is carried on. It’s in the first half of the movie that Peli’s influence is most apparent. The initial scenario and some of the images of the house are very similar to his “Paranormal Activity” and the unease felt is comparable as well. Wan has made his name with the “Saw” series that is known for being full throttle throughout, never really shifting gears and changing pace. Here he lets things develop and takes time introducing his characters. There are little moments, like Josh applying eye cream to his crow’s feet and plucking grays in the bathroom mirror, that are nice touches. As the film progresses, Wan introduces more and more of his signature style and the final act of the film is filled with quick cuts and flashes of gruesome images.
To say that “Insidious” is very original, however, would be misleading. Ideas are pulled from all over the place and there are many moments that will remind you of other films. Parts of “Poltergeist,” “Ghostbusters” and “Amityville Horror,” to merely name a few, surface as the movie goes on. It can be distracting and the film works best if these similarities are viewed as homage and ignored. The film delivers plenty of genuine scares and doesn’t always go the predictable route. The fact that this is rated PG-13 doesn’t, for one minute, make the story feel compromised. It is simply good, scary fun.