I just had to put an exclamation mark after Insidious. It is such a great title. And mostly a great movie. Directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell, the duo behind the original Saw (which I love), Insidious is a good old fashioned haunted house story. Or should I say, haunted boy story (no spoiler here: it is in some of the posters.) A middle class family (how can they afford that home on a teacher's salary?) move into a beautiful home. Dad (Patrick Wilson) is a teacher, while Mom (Rose Byrne) stays at home and cares for the three children. She also writes music, just so you don't think this is a total fairy tale. Their oldest son has an accident and soon slips into a mysterious coma. The Doctors can't explain it, and soon the parents bring him home. Then all the freaky shit starts to happen.
The beginning of the haunting is the best part of this film. Instead of relying on cheap scares or gore, Wan and Whannell scare you by giving you glimpses of figures and phenomena. Soon, you are covering your eyes, sure that some nasty is hiding behind the door. Mom is the one who is subjected to most of this horror, and she is soon begging her husband to leave the house. And he agrees! My God, for the first time in a horror film the family is not going to stay in the haunted house! These are actual smart people!
The good times don't last for long however. It soon becomes clear that what ever is haunting them is following them. Barbara Hershey shows up as the sympathetic Mother-in-Law, who just happens to know a woman who can help. The psychic, played by the incredible Lin Shaye, arrives with two ghostbusters (one of whom is played by Whannell) and soon discovers that this is no ordinary haunting..
And here is where the movies takes a nose dive. I swear the last hour of this film is a completely different film both in tone and scares. It is not all bad, but after such a fantastic and creepy set up I was hoping for an ending that reminded me less of the Thirteen Ghosts remake. After covering my eyes for the first half I found myself bored during the second. The ending is pretty satisfying and sets things up for a sequel. I liked the family and all of the characters. None of them, amazingly enough, are assholes. This is pretty amazing considering the film was produced by Oren Peli, whose Paranormal Activity was populated with assholes, including the ghosts!
I think I would like to see a ghost film strictly about ghosts. The recent trend is to make you are watching a ghost story, but then the ghosts turn out to be Demons. Like Demons are so much scarier than ghosts! Alright, they are a whole lot scarier than ghosts-- but give ghosts a chance! Also, give Insidious a chance. It is a rare horror film to make it to the theatres- a feat in itself. And I promise- you will be scared for half of it.