Directed by James Wan
Written by Leigh Whannell
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, and Barbara Hershey
A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.
I’m not lying when I say a girl at my viewing of Insidious pissed her pants. It was probably for good reason too. Those score-punctuated spikes of horror went a long way in an age of cheap cares and torture porn movies. Wan and Whannell made an organic horror film with all the key ingredients. Solid script, solid acting, direction, and a remarkable cinematography team. There isn’t a frame that doesn’t meticulously serve the film. Starting from the terrifying way INSIDIOUS flashed on the screen, glowing red text literally warns the viewer what they’re in for. If anything was a surprise in the genre that year, Insidious was it.
Centering the film on a cool way to present astral travel to the audience, Insidious teaches us much more than homes can be haunted; people can share the same qualities. When Josh and Renai Lambert’s young son, Dalton, slips into a mysterious coma, the family is forced to explore the very real chance that Dalton is allowing a pathway for the dead, for demons, through his unmanned body. The farther he travels from his body, the easier it is for the Lipstick-Face Demon to own him. The film feels a little like 1982’s horror sleeper, Poltergeist. Another film where the effects serve the film instead of unjustly dominate it. A little mystery and intrigue can go a long way.
When Insidious finally hits critical mass, it’s a wild ride to the darkest depths of Wan and Whannell’s twisted creativity. Tiny Tim’s innocuous song, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, takes on terrifying new life in Wan’s hands. Creepy kids, drag queen spirits, and a riveting score all tilt the scales in horror’s favor. While the film’s sequel, Insidious Chapter 2, remains much more over the top, the original film is a must-see. If you like to experience terror instead of just watch it play out, this is required viewing for October.