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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2011
Surprisingly 'old-school' ghost story given that the writer and director are best known for their work on the hardcore Saw films. If it weren't for the last twenty minutes and the subsequent, exhausted 'twist' ending, this would be a really solid film.

Young Dalton Lambert goes into a medically inexplicable coma. His family searches for answers. Weird things happen. A psychic is consulted. More weird things happen. That's the movie with the major twists and revelations unrevealed.

Wan and Whannel get a lot of productive mileage out of showing little and suggesting a lot, of quick scares and odd things lurking in the outskirts of the frame. The cosmology introduced by the psychic to explain what's going on makes a certain amount of sense, though it's not developed enough to be all that convincing for long. A visual homage to Neil Gaiman's Sandman series is a bit jarring; that one supernatural entity looks an awful lot like Darth Maul undercuts a certain amount of tension.

Rose Byrne is a stand-out as the worried mother. Byrne's face in repose tends to look sad anyway -- I think it's her eyebrows -- and the look suits the material. Patrick Wilson is fine as the father, who has supernatural secrets of his own, though he appears to lose about 50 IQ points in the last twenty minutes. When the psychic tells you not to draw attention to yourself, don't run around yelling at every supernatural entity you encounter, that's all I've got to say.

The movie also joins the horror sub-sub-sub-genre of 'Monsters who love novelty songs,' as one entity really likes Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through the Tulips," which was already terrifying enough on its own. Hell's playlist must be really awful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2011
If you like to feel scared but don't like goriness, this is for you. I don't want to reveal any plot details, but I liked the way a supernatural situation was handled by realistic and intelligent people. As the story unfolds, the reasons to be frightened develop to a climax.
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A family moves into a new home, and spooky things start happening. Eventually they realize the truth -- they are being haunted by a malevolent supernatural force.

It's a plot so common that it has become a cliche, but there is still some creative juice to be squeezed from it -- and in "Insidious," it scares the pants off you. James Wan (the guy who gave us the original "Saw" and "Dead Silence") crafts a slow, eerie drift through a ghostly nightmare, which is only flawed because sometimes it feels like he's throwing every single scary thing imaginable into it.

Renai and Josh Lambert (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) have just moved into a lovely new house with their three children, and everything seems fine.... until their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a coma, and the doctors don't know why. Then weird things start happening -- Dalton's brother reveals that Dalton sleepwalks through the house every night, faces appear in the windows, and a mysterious specter attacks Renai.

So they do the sensible thing: move to a new house. But then Josh's mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) spots a horrifying figure lurking near Dalton's body, and they realize that whatever was haunting them before has followed them.

So Lorraine calls in an old psychic friend, Elise (Lin Shaye); Josh believes that she's just a fraud, but she soon shows that she can detect the Darth Maul-looking creature that is haunting Dalton. It turns out that Dalton's soul is lost in a spiritual in-between zone that Elise calls The Further -- and if they don't save him soon, something terrible will steal his body.

In a lot of ways, "Insidious" reminds me of "Poltergeist" -- a family, a new home, a terrifying ghostly presence that is stalking a gifted child, and a parent who is forced to go into an "in between" death dimension. And like "Poltergeist," this movie takes well-worn ghost story cliches and makes them scary once more... just by doing them really well.

Even before the spooky stuff begins, director James Wan gives the movie an eerie atmosphere. Every scene is full of pale grey light, with lots of empty shadowy rooms and sudden bursts of loud wild sound (including "Tiptoe Through the Tulips," which is terrifying enough). And he gives you the feeling that something is lurking in the corner just out of sight -- something cold and hungry, something utterly merciless. Even worse, it's not alone.

Gradually, Wan builds up a sense of building horror, throwing in glimpses of dead-faced men, gas masks, and finally a venture into the Further itself. This is basically everything that James Wan finds terrifying -- a hellish, eerie dimension filled with the grinning puppet-like dead, victrolas piping eerie music, and a demon who looks like a Darth Maul minotaur. It doesn't sound scary, but it will have you clawing the arms of your chair.

The only problem with the Further is... well, it feels like Wan flung every single scary thing he could come up with into the Further, without much of a plan. It's wildly effective on a visceral level, but it leaves you wondering how some parts of it (the laughing kid, for instance) gel together with Darth Maul Demon.

Sympathetic characters in horror movies are about as common as frogs who can do algebra, so it's refreshing that... well, pretty much everybody in this movie is likable. While Josh seems insensitive at times, it's gradually revealed that there's a reason why he shies away from all things supernatural, and Patrick Wilson really gives a powerful, intense performance as a guy desperate to save his son, yet resistant to what could save him.

Byrne is at the other end of the spectrum -- Renai is crumbling slowly under the constant onslaught of specters and scares, and Byrne captures her raw terror for her family. Shaye and Hershey give solid performances as well... and my only complaint is that the baby is ALWAYS crying.

With excellent direction and a very talented cast, "Insidious" is a haunting ghost story that builds up to visceral, nightmarish terror -- and while the horror seems random sometimes, it's still very effective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2013
This is a very scary movie. But quite entertaining if you enjoy very spooky. I will have to buy Insidious 2 when it comes out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2015
Great horror flick! Definitely one to catch if you haven't seen it. Me and my wife loved it.
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on November 22, 2015
It was well done. It is a rather different scary movie. I will now buy Insidious 2.
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on July 28, 2015
Really good movie, enjoyed all of them so far...
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 23, 2013
A young family begin to experience supernatural occurrences and their young son, Dalton, who never recovered from a minor accident and is in a mysterious coma, appears to be the centre of this strange phenomenon. A medium is called in and it is discovered that Dalton, has the ability to astral project and travel to another realm, which is referred to as "The Further" and is somehow lost and may be in the company of a monstrous entity. His empty, soul-less body, has become an open vessel for other worldly creatures who are wanting to live again, and will possess his body if the sleeping boy's soul is not returned soon.

It has been stated that this film bears a resemblance to the classic Tobe Hooper film, "Poltergeist" (1982). Let's see. Both films deal with supernatural activity tormenting a young family with the phenomenon concentrating on one of the children. Both films have a child lost in another dimension, "The Further" (Insidious) or "The Other Side" (Poltergeist, although this term wasn't used until the sequel). Both children are in the company of a monstrous evil. Both films have a team of parapsychologists called in to try and establish contact and return the child to this world. Both films have a parent travel to another dimension to reclaim their child. The similarities appear endless. However, visually, the 2 movies look nothing alike. "Poltergeist", in my opinion, is superior. Hooper's classic is very Special Effect's heavy and has a lot more on screen action, with floating phantasms, supernatural whirlwinds, exploding coffins and many corpses on display, not to mention, it also had heart and a funny bone. "Insidious" really has none of the above, and this films tone is much more darker. Comparisons aside, "Insidious" has a lot of atmosphere and there are some real sinister scenes. You do see some surreal characters and images during the last quarter of the film and the performances are good. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne who play the tormented couple, John and Renai Lambert, are good, although Josh, at times, was kind of loopy (more on this a bit later). I also loved seeing the beautiful Barbara Hershey again as Lorraine, Josh's tormented mother who also has a secret of her own to tell. The film is more psychological, relying more on atmosphere and tense situations for its chills, and some of the make-up effects are frightening (the main demon resembles Darth Maul a bit too much). The score is a bit creepy, although it could get a bit grating if you sit through the end credits, almost like nails on a chalk-board.

Some of the scenes are a bit of a let-down. **Possible Spoilers** When Josh is shown ghostly pictures from his childhood, the apparition in the photos are just too in-your-face to the point that they look photo-shopped. Images that were less obvious would have been far more successful. Also when "The Further" is finally visualized, it is much too dark to see anything clearly and the ghosts/souls inhabiting this realm are quirky and rather pathetic, aside from the main demon, they do not appear at all that frightening, and I have to admit, the main demon lost it's frightening edge once I realized it likes to listen to Tiny Tim. Josh also appears to be a bit mindless in the latter parts of the film and is not able to follow important instructions all too well. A medium explicitly tells him that he is travelling to another realm and to NOT DRAW ATTENTION to himself because if they (meaning the evil creatures that reside there) realize he is not one of them, they will come for his "physical body in this world" yet once there, he starts screaming at the top of his lungs "Dalton!!!, Dalton!!!..Followed by "Where is my son? .. Tell me where my son is, please! .. Have you seen my son!??" and then initiates a fight with, none other than a parasitic and powerful entity and screams at it - `What do you want from me?..I am not scared of you ... Get away from me.. Leave me alone!!" . Really? Dude, really? You fail.

"Insidious" moves along surely but slowly and there really is minimal action here and when the action does start during the all too important climax, it is much too dark to see any of it. With that said, I do appreciate this film and would love to see more of this type of horror releases since for the past decade, we have been given far too many slasher movies and torture porn. "Insidious" is more in the lines of "The Changeling", "The Exorcist", and of course, "Poltergeist", the film it most resembles, at least in spirit. It's a good little horror tale but despite its chilling atmosphere and good performances, I still have to admit that this has been done before and done much better. It's still makes a great movie to watch on "Halloween" with the lights turned off and the volume set to MAX.

3.5 out of 5
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2013
Better than Saw, better than Paranormal Activity...INSIDIOUS! At the beginning of the film, a shadowy old woman is seen inside a house while the inhabitants sleep.
Renai and Josh Lambert have recently moved into a new home with their three children. One morning, Renai looks through a family photo album with her son, Dalton, who asks why there are no pictures of Josh when he was a child. Renai reasons that he has always been camera shy and disliked taking photos of himself. One evening, Dalton sees the attic door open and goes to investigate after hearing sounds upstairs. As he enters inside, he tries to climb a ladder to turn on the light, but falls when the ladder cracks. As he falls to the floor, he seems to stare in horror at the darkness as if looking at something terrifying. Shaken, he is put to bed by Renai and Josh and told not to play in the attic because it is off-limits. The next day, Dalton does not awaken from his sleep. Renai and Josh rush him to the hospital, where the doctors say he is in an inexplicable coma.
Three months later, Dalton is moved back to his home while still in a coma. Shortly after, disturbing events begin to occur. The first is when Renai hears a voice on the baby monitor which shouts "I want it now!", a bloody hand-print on Dalton's bed and a strange but frightening man in her infant daughter's bedroom. Renai becomes more disturbed when their youngest son, Foster, says he does not like it when Dalton "walks around" at night. Renai tells Josh about the events, but when she is assaulted by the strange man that night, she begs Josh and the family soon moves to another house.
In the new house, the supernatural events continue to occur, such as a strange, dancing boy, and soon become increasingly sinister. Lorraine, Josh's mother, recalls having a strange dream of going inside Dalton's room in the night and seeing something standing in the corner, and when questioned "What do you want?", it replies "Dalton." Subsequently Lorraine sees a red-faced figure standing behind Josh that roars at her and Dalton is then violently attacked in his bedroom. This prompts Lorraine to contact a friend, Elise Reiner, who specializes in the investigation of paranormal activity. The family, Elise, and her team enter Dalton's room and Elise sees and describes a figure to one of her two assistants, who draws a black figure with a red face and dark hollow eyes on the ceiling of Dalton's room; the same figure that Lorraine had seen before in the house.
Elise explains to Renai and Josh that Dalton has the ability to astral project while sleeping and that he has been doing it since he was very young. The reason that Dalton is in a comatose state is because he has fearlessly traveled too far into different spiritual worlds (he believes the projections are dreams) and has consequently become lost in a land called "The Further"—a place for the tormented souls of the dead. While Dalton's spirit is in this other world, he has left nothing but a lifeless body. The tormented souls crave another chance at life through Dalton's state, while there are others (possibly the old woman and the frightening man) who are more malicious in using him, and then there is the red-faced figure, revealed to be a demon, who wants to use Dalton for a more malicious intent. However, for a spirit to consume a body, a period of time and energy are required.
Skeptical at first, Josh later relents when he discovers Dalton had been drawing pictures which resemble the demonic figure Elise described. They run a session to try to communicate with Dalton where the demon uses Dalton's body to fight the group, along with other entities who want Dalton's body. After the session, Elise calls Lorraine and the two reveal to the couple that Josh also can astral project and was terrorized by an evil spirit during his childhood. Lorraine shows them pictures from Josh's childhood, revealing a shadowy old woman (the same woman from the beginning of the film) behind him. The more photographs taken of Josh, the closer the shadowy woman begins to get to Josh until she is inches away from him, explaining his fear of photos. Elise suggests that Josh should use his ability to find and help return Dalton's soul, to which Josh agrees.
To prepare to astral-project and find his son, Elise sits him in a chair and places him in a trance. Josh suddenly awakes to find that he has astral-projected—seeing his own self asleep in the chair as well as the others in the room. He proceeds outside in a misty emptiness in an attempt to find his way to Dalton. After encountering a boy who points him back towards a house (the same home that the Lamberts moved out of), he proceeds, only to encounter a family who is shot by a bizarre, smiling female member of the family in the living room. Startled, Josh makes his way to the attic where he discovers a red door (the same one drawn in Dalton's pictures). Before he can enter, the violent man seen by Renai in their daughter's room appears and attacks him. Once defeating him, Josh enters the red door.
Inside is "The Further" and the red-faced demon's lair. While entering a cavernous, red room, Josh discovers a sobbing Dalton, chained to the floor. Josh frees his son, but the demon has discovered Josh's presence and attacks them. In search of their physical bodies, Josh and Dalton flee the demon's lair, with the demon in pursuit. Just before the two awaken, Josh leaves his son to confront the shadowy old woman who appears to be inside his house. As he shouts for her to get away from him, screaming that he isn't afraid of her, she retreats into the darkness. Moments later, Josh and Dalton both awaken, just as all the spirits vanish.
With the family now happily reunited, Renai, Dalton, and Lorraine chat in the kitchen as Elise and Josh pack up from the long night. Josh hands Elise the pictures from his childhood, and as she takes them from his hands, she senses something and takes a picture of Josh. He promptly goes into a rage, screaming that she knows that he doesn't like to get photographed, and leaps on her before strangling her to death. Renai hears Josh yelling and goes into the room to find Elise dead and Josh gone. She searches for Josh and finds everyone is gone, the house dead silent. She looks and comes across Elise's camera, seeing a picture in it of the shadowy old woman. It's revealed that what Elise saw was Josh's old and dirty hand and nails, similar to the old woman's, implying that she has possessed him. Josh then puts his hand on Renai's shoulder, saying "Renai, I'm right here," and horror envelops her face as she looks behind her.
In a post-credits scene, the shadowy, old woman can be seen blowing out a candle and the screen fades into total darkness.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2015
It's a nice movie but suffers from the same ills of American movies on the subject. Americans have difficulty to understand what they cannot touch or blow up. When they deal with spirits, they either go overboard or under-do it. And then there are the 2 guys with the ghost machines. Why on earth were they made to be comedians? And why were they more terrified than the lay people they were supposed to help? And lastly the dad. He was totally opposed to everything at the beginning, like a typical macho dad, and then he was battling spirits like he did it for a living everyday!
Despite all this, the movie will entertain most people who likes scary movies and who do not ask too many questions.
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