When the creators of Saw and Paranormal Activity are attached to a movie, you can’t help but have a certain level of skepticism (please reference any movie by M. Night Shyamalan after The Sixth Sense). But with Insidious, director James Wan, writer Leigh Whannell and producer Oren Peli up their game to assure moviegoers that they still are top dogs in the horror movie game.
From the menacing dissonant chords of the soundtrack to the something-scary-is-about-to-happen lighting, Insidious is a gracious nod to throwback iconic horror movies like Poltergeist and The Omen — and it screws with your mind just as much. Playing with the notion of “the unseen is just as scary as the seen,” the movie puts a clever spin on the traditional haunted house movie.
When happy couple Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) move into a new house, all is well until their son falls into a mysterious coma. Soon after, a bunch of things start to go bump in the night. Byrne’s character freaks out so much that they move — but that doesn’t solve anything because (surprise) their second house is haunted too. Things start popping up in the dark, including a guy that looks the Undertaker from the WWE, an aged member of the Wizard of Oz‘s Lollipop Guild and, the grandmaster ghost of them all — a Darth Maul-looking demon with hooves.
Josh’s mother (played by the wonderful Barbara Hershey) starts to sense some bad mojo in the place so she calls upon her special psychic exorcist friend, Elise (Lin Shaye). Along with her dynamic deadpan ghostbusting duo of Specs (played by writer Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), she examines the situation and discovers that it’s not the house that is haunted — it’s the comatose boy!
Well, based on the trailer, you probably already know that but you must watch the entire movie because there’s another twist that is kind of wacky, but tolerable.
For a PG-13 movie, it gives an R-rated scare. I jumped in my seat when needed and almost peed in my pants just once (when I saw the creepy old tranny ghost woman floating in the window). All the while, the girls in the seats next to me kept their eyes covered for 90 minutes of the 102-minute run time.
Thus giving testimony to the worthiness of Insidious: a modern haunted house movie with traditional scared shitless tactics.
Insidious opens in theaters today.