Rewind Review: Insidious (2011)


Cast: , ,
Director: James Wan
Country: USA | Canada
Genre: Horror | Thriller
Official Trailer: Here

Editor’s Notes: Insidious: Chapter 2 opens wide theatrically on Friday, September 13th.

The team of James Wan and Leigh Whannel, who so famously gave us the first installment to what would later become the Saw franchise, had a rather different agenda this time around. They wanted to prove that they could terrify an audience without graphic violence, and rest assured, they succeeded.

insidious-2Insidious opens with a terrifying single shot through a dimly lit house that sets the tone justly. We’re quickly introduced to high school teacher Josh (Patrick Wilson), his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) and their children. They’ve just moved into a new house, the kind of house you’d only find in a haunted house movie and it’s not long before spirits start to make their presence known and put one of their children (Ty Simpkins) in a coma. That sets Josh and Renai on a frightening journey to save their son.

There are so many aspects of this film to love. It’s the unoriginal haunted-house flick with some new tricks. For a movie mostly composed of jump scares, it deserves credit for making sure the scares are real. No oh-it-was-just-the-toaster scares. There is nothing worse than cheap jump scares.

This film is all about the atmosphere it creates. With some interesting storytelling shifts the atmosphere is constantly evolving. The third act is particularly strong, although it does make the fatal mistake of revealing the evil spirit. Fear of the unknown was working well - Wan took a risk in revealing Darth Maul and unfortunately it didn’t pay off.

[Wan and Whannel] wanted to prove that they could terrify an audience without graphic violence, and rest assured, they succeeded.

The cinematography is wonderful, especially the use of wide shots. It’s easy for a horror flick to trick the audience by using close-ups so the audience can’t see what’s in the room. Insidious took a different route and showed us the entire room, and still not being able to pinpoint the evil spirits is far more terrifying.

insidious-3Wilson and Byrne have great chemistry together and the child actors aren’t overly annoying. Luckily the actors do a great job selling the scares or that third act could’ve been messy. The soundtrack is also worth mentioning, blending great with Wan’s camerawork.

Insidious doesn’t try to be anything more than a scary haunted house flick, and that’s where it succeeds. It knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more. It does a great job merging the three tonally different acts and keeping the audience involved in the story.

65/100 ~ OK. Insidious doesn’t try to be anything more than a scary haunted house flick.

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Josh Lewis

Staff Film Critic
Josh is an independent Canadian filmmaker studying out of the Toronto Film School. In his spare times he combines his passion for writing with his passion for film, and contributes his voice to whoever is looking to listen.

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