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Insidious (2011) - Synopsis and Review

Updated on May 7, 2011

Insidious is a horror movie directed by James Wan and Written by Leigh Whannell creators of Saw and Paranormal Activity.


A family which has just moved into a new house discovers that an evil spirit is inside the house while at the same time, the couple's son falls into a coma inexplicably.

Trying to escape the hauntings and save the boy, they move again but realize something terrible that leaves them desperate: it was not the house that was haunted.


The first half of Insidious is a small masterpiece of the genre and, dare I say, on the same level as the greatest horror movies with haunted houses.

In it, we follow the Lambert family, moving to a new home as young Dalton accidentally falls into a coma after falling from a ladder. At the same time, strange events unfold in the house - voices, whispers, creaks and apparitions become frequent. Skeptical at first, but without ignoring the events, the Lambert make a decision never seen in this sub-genre: they actually move again. It is at this moment, beginning the second half, that the events increase in tension and scares, but starts losing some of the real fear factor closer to the end.

Director James Wan makes abundant use of shots closer to the characters, inviting the viewer to interact with the family and witness the supernatural events as they occur with increased intensity.
Combining the well conceived photography, which plunges the story into lifeless colors and perfidious shadows, the uncomfortable but intelligent and amazing soundtrack, and the frequent sharp chords along with a cautious camera which evolves more and more restless and claustrophobic over time as events unfold, Director James Wan manages to turn the viewer into a victim, and not only a mere observer of events in the house.

Leigh Whannell's script does a pretty good job in building the characters, making it almost essential the survival of every member of the family. Josh (Patrick Wilson) turns out to be a good father bringing a gift back home for his son and a loving husband in the conversations that he has with his wife before going to sleep.
Although naturally skeptical, Josh escapes the clichés of other characters from the genre when he converts into his wife’s requests -he had not witnessed any supernatural manifestation yet - but relying wholly on account of this desperate wife's reports. Moreover, Renai (Rose Byrne), while suffering from the afflictions of daily events, is deeply affected with each new paranormal event. The involvement becomes easier with the young couple's children, avoiding the stereotypes of artificial film, and building children afraid of the dark or who dream of being a superhero.

Finally, James Wan seems unable to overcome the addiction to precede each shock with a sharp chord on the trail, despite not being actually needed in the dynamics of fear (because the best scares come barefoot) one cannot ignore that the preparation and setting is much more important they than the shock itself.
Therefore, the appearance of an image behind the veil of a cradle or a face almost diabolical under the shoulder of Josh have an intense effect, because despite the inseparable companion of the soundtrack, the viewer was already absorbed and immersed in the whole context.

However, the screenplay by Whannell searches to rationally justify this evil through excessive fantasy. We begin a "trip" over astral projections and ghost busters with weird gadgets.

Meantime, the so far guaranteed success of the first half of Insidious gives way to the viewer's acceptance which is never good. The scene involving a medium is efficient but does not save the final part of the movie. Worse, the movie reveals some not so irrelevant holes in the script.
(*** SPOILERS - START ***) For example, if the spirits' goal was to take Dalton's empty body, why would voices arise from the baby's room, over the radio? Because the spirits wanted to terrorize Renai? And how could Josh and Renai have ignored Dalton's drawings?
(*** SPOILERS - END ***)

This fantasy climate produces a jarring climax for the entire projection, and despite tense, harrowing and gruesome it only scratches the final result.

Insidious is great and much above average, an almost-classic horror ... almost

Final Verdict

Insidious. An unexpected but good surprise. The first half of the movie is worth a complete 5 out of 5 stars but honestly, "The Further" was a rather disappointing concept.
Nevertheless, it was a good movie overall and, in it's genre, it certainly is one of the best horror movies of 2011.

Score: 4 / 5

What Did Other People Say About It?

"Hands down the best PG-13 horror movie ever"
jacobconant at

"Scariest Movie I've Seen In Years!!!"
Chad Brinkman at

"Right behind The Exorcist"

jbitterman at

"So Close to Being a Classic"

ericaland2003 at


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