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on 16 July 2011
Not many films scare me these days. Mostly it's all gore or cheap shocks. But gut-churning scares are something of a rarity. Insidious, the new film from Saw director, James Wan, has chills and creeps a-plenty, with the obligatory jump-out-of-your-seat shocks thrown in for good measure.

Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) have three kids, two young boys and a baby girl. Soon after moving into a new house, weird stuff starts happening: strange noises, glimpses of figures, the usual. When Rose is attacked by a spectral figure and their son, Dalton, ends up in a coma-that's-not-really-a-coma, they decide to move house again.

Obviously this doesn't help and Josh's mum (Barbara Hershey) calls in a psychic, Elise, and her team to help. Turns out it's not the houses that were haunted, but Dalton. You see, the young scamp can astral project himself to a place Elise calls The Further. Unfortunately, he's strayed too far and got lost, unable to find his way back to his body, which is now an empty vessel attracting spirits and demons like flies around... you know.

Luckily, the ability to project astrally is genetic (hard science!), so Josh has to go in and bring back his son before the big bad can get his literal claws into him.

Doesn't sound too scary, does it? Actually sounds a bit like a rip-off of Poltergeist. Yeah, well, it is a bit. But it's a flippin' scary one!

From the outset, you are peering into dark corners, wondering if you saw something there. Was that a face at the window? Did somebody walk by that open door just then? There's plenty of that and all's well and good while that's going on. It's when the astral projection sub-plot arrives that things go a bit awry.

The movie is terrifying right until Josh enters his astral state and then it all gets a bit Twilight Zone. Sure, there are some scares to be had and the demon is petrifying to look at (kind of like Darth Maul on a really bad day), but it all seems removed from the main body of the film, as though they came up short in the writing and had to add another fifteen pages to pad it out. As I said, a bit too much like Poltergeist.

Apart from that, however, I really, really enjoyed Insidious and I don't mind telling you, it did creep me out so much that I contemplated leaving the landing light on (I didn't in the end and every tiny sound in the house suddenly became amplified a zillion percent!). One of the producers of the film was Oren Peli, he of Paranormal Activity fame, and there was more than a hint of that film in Insidious.

By the way, watch the film and try to guess the budget... I'll wait here until you get back.... Done that? Not bad, eh? Anyway, did you guess the budget? Me neither, but apparently, the budget for Insidious was a paltry $1.5million. A million and a half bucks!! That wouldn't pay for the bowls of M&Ms on a big studio picture. For that alone, I am willing to cut the film a whole bunch of slack and recommend it to anybody who wants the willies scaring out of them.
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Must admit i had read a mixed bag of reviews at the time of it's cinema release, therefore was unsure of what to expect.
However, i have to say this was one of the most chilling and tense films i've seen in recent years, it did run out of steam a little toward the end sadly, but, it's worth a watch at the very least.
The story tells of a family who's son had fallen, seemingly into a coma after the fall.
When unexplained things start to happen around the home along with images of persons not really there 'Renai' persuades her husband to move home, which they do, however the problems they experienced in the old house are still with them.
they call in a team that specialise in strange happenings, but the answers they are getting are not what they want to hear.
Somehow the problem is within their son who remains in a coma, they are being told he's not in a coma but in another world, alive, but his concious being is being threatened.......can they bring him back with help. ?
Maybe watching it early, if you are a little nervous, just so you can watch something after that's ''nice'' .....just to avoid ''nightmares''
This was a pretty decent watch, however the follow-up, for me, at least, fell well short of expectation.
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on 30 May 2011
I've started writing this review about six times because I still can't quite make up my mind about this latest offering.

With the obvious 'Saw' and 'Paranormal Activity' connections, 'Insidious' had a lot to live up to. I'm going to try and give you the pros and cons and let you make your mind up. Why? Because I can't decide whether this is cheesy rubbish or actually a refreshing return to good, old-fashioned tension (non-blood and guts) horror. This will be quite cathartic for me and hopefully of interest to you!

The 'Fors'....

* For all that this smacks of another creepy kid movie, it is different to most. There are elements of 'Poltergeist' Poltergeist (25th Anniversary Edition) [DVD] but in the main has found it's niche in an otherwise crowded sub-genre.

* I like the fact that 'Insidious' steers away from 'Paranormal Activity' in that for all the jumpy bits and great tension, it does go beyond that (especially in the last half an hour) and plunges into Stephen King-esque fantasy horror. The two main characters find themselves in another dimension, fending off ghouls that are trying to inhabit the little boy's body; something that you wouldn't have expected during the first hour.

* Generally, nothing is wrong with the story, character development and acting

The 'Againsts'....

* The 'ghosts' aren't scary at all and they are all full-bodied (as opposed to apparitions). At times it looked a bit like an A-Level drama play

* There is the odd cringe-worthy moment in the script!

* The pair of ghost hunters are meant to add some comic relief. Unfortunately this wasn't needed, came across as annoying and detracted from the high tension levels

* 'Lazy' scares! There are jumpy bits, but I found myself jumping more at the 'silence followed by a booming sound effect' more than I did the scene itself.

* I haven't really thought about 'Insidious' since!

All in all, I say that 'Insidious' is pretty good, but has too many flaws to be classed as a 'great' horror film. That said, it is definitely worth a look and is both entertaining and enjoyable.
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I think it was ‘Poltergeist’ which set the template for modern horror, i.e. family finds out house is haunted, doesn’t believe it, does believe it, calls experts and then resolution. ‘Insidious,’ like so many other post eighties horror films, follows that formula to the letter. However, whereas most are pretty forgettable, this one has just about enough scares and creepiness in it to make it worth watching.

It’s hardly worth going into detail regarding the plot, as I’m reasonably smug that I’ve summed it up sufficiently in my opening paragraph. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne play the mum and dad. Yup, they’re happy, successful and have three children. They play the parts well from everyday doting parents to disbelieving and supernaturally-harassed protagonists and they do nothing to make you not want to root for them. Especially when one of their children slips into an unusual coma and his housebound ever after. But that’s when the haunting begins...

Instead of being sucked into the TV-dimension, he’s stuck in another afterlife and spirits want to get into our world via him. Those dastardly spirits (including one that looks like Darth Maul from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – so it’s nice to see the poor Sith Lord can still get work after that depressing inclusion into the sci-fi franchise) follow the family from house to house until the mandatory local paranormal expert is called in to sort the spooks out.

Cue the resolution. I won’t spoil it as sometimes the family wins and sometimes they get horribly murdered and it ends on a downer, but, once again, the resolution follows. Like I say, this is ‘horror by the numbers’ but it’s good enough to watch. If you’re a horror fan then you’ve probably seen better, but that’s because you’ve probably got classic horror films among your DVD collection. However, you probably won’t see many – recent – horror films that create a creepy/tense atmosphere. Give it a go.
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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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on 16 December 2013
Oh boy, where do I even begin? This movie is good for so many reasons. This really is a stunning piece of cinematography!

The Lambert's have just moved into a new house, everything seems hunky dory at first, until strange things start happening, Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) starts to feel and see strange things around their house, especially when their little boy Dalton (Ty Simpkins) suddenly goes into what they believe to be a coma, except he's not, he's astro projecting and Dad Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) jumps into save the day. This really isn't your typical horror movie, at least it's not if your in it to expect gore and serial killers. "Insidious" is so much more then that!

This is by far one of the best horror movies I have seen in a really long time. I don't normally give horror movies the time of day, there aren't many films that on first viewing I can generally say creeped me out and had me wondering what was going to happen next. This movie has this capability, trust me! It's so beautifully filmed, James Wan really was onto a winner when he directed this, as was Leigh Whannell when he wrote it, who also guest stars in the movie. What an imagination.

If you love horrors you really are gonna love this, this is a film that you really need to sit and watch and experience, there will be scenes that will make you jump and others that won't, but will leave you wondering, along with wonderful twists and turns. Terrific acting. Terrific soundtrack, go and check it out, I guarantee you won't be dissapointed.
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on 9 September 2013
With chapter 2 looming on the horizon now is as good a time as any to revisit the horrors that this breakout hit brings with it.

Insidious is a creepy chiller with some inventive moments and a slight twist on the normal haunted house story. It falls short of being completely terrifying but the build-up of tension over the running time helps to maintain a sense of fear throughout.

A family move into a house and start to experience some ghostly goings on after their son falls into a coma. To say much more would spoil what actually happens, but suffice to say that not all is as it seems. A dark apparition starts to haunt the family, specifically targeting their comatose son. The frights are more creepy rather than full on scary but the figure himself, revealed in short flash cuts and darkened shadows, is a frightening sight and will go down as one of the most horrific looking demons ever to be conceived.

The majority of the film is rather standard horror fair. You have the normal white collar family. The slightly loner-ish child and his spooky drawings. You also have the exorcist bringing in their motley crew to vanquish whatever evil burdens their lives.

It is at this point the film throws out it's slow burn atmosphere building tricks and goes all out with the creepiness. The first half does a great job of building up tension and alluding to the demon that hangs around their son. The second half becomes a rather generic ghost hunt, but it is executed really well and continues to throw the odd surprise at you. The atmosphere created at the end is palpable and really draws you in.

The family are actually quite likable. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson do a really good job of conveying the worried mother and the shocked and cynical father. They may not be anything new, but they bring a humanity that is often missing from most standard horror films. They are not just there as cannon fodder. They are fighting for their family.

Insidious is by no means a classic. It doesn't bend any genres or create anything overly new. However it is blindingly entertaining with a memorable antagonist. It is creepy but not quite terrifying. It feels like it wanted to break loose just a little more and hopefully the next part will do just that.

A great little horror film which has room to grow.
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on 8 September 2013
A few weeks ago I saw the 1982 cult horror movie `The Entity'The Entity [1982] [DVD]. Based on supposedly real events from 1976, it stars Barbara Hershey as a single mother haunted by attempted demonic possession, and despite it's small budget it's a really impressive watch,
Last night I finally got to see `Insidious' (2011) which shares a lot in common with `The Entity'. It too is about a family haunted by demonic possession, was made on a low budget, and features Barbara Hershey in a supporting role.
But there the similarities end. Whilst `The Entity' really does leave you with a feeling of dread, `Insidious' just fails to move on every level.
Created by writer/actor Leigh Whannell and director James Wan, the geniuses behind that other low budget shocker `Saw' (2004),`Insidious' tries hard but never hits the target. It's like Whannell and Wan have tried to remake `The Entity' for a 21st century audience but have fallen flat on their faces. There are no jumps, no scares, no surprises, no nothing. It pains me to say it but `Insidious' is just dull, and that is probably the worst thing you can ever say about a horror movie. Indeed the only scary thing is the use of Tiny Tim's rendition of "Tip-Toe Through The Tulips" whenever the main demon appears!
Bitterly disappointing all round, the film also features the most rubbish pair of ghost hunters since those two fakes who turned up in a episode of `Catweazle' Catweazle, Series 2 [DVD] [1971] Yes, `Insidious' is that bad...
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on 31 August 2013
Now let me clear about this- this is a bad film. It is poorly written, lacking depth, absolutely preposterous, frankly incredulous, and just bad. But you know what? I loved every single minute. I knew I was being taken for a ride, and I just closed my eyes and went with it. I was heavily rewarded- this, as a moviegoing experience, is one of the best I've ever had. I loved it.

The plot is simple. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson play mother and father to three young boys, one of whom is called Dalton. The family have recently moved into a new house. Dalton goes exploring, falls off a ladder, and then falls into a coma (except it isn't a coma, says the Doctor, in the obligatory scene where exposition is thrown at us). It's not long before the mother is having all manner of horrific visions; they move house; but as the cover gleefully informs us, it's not the house that's haunted.

It all boils down to the fact that Dalton can enter some kind of magic realm of demons and nastiness in his sleep, and he's strayed too far, and this one demon is using Dalton to cause pain and suffering on the family (that ol' deux ex machina of horror villains), as well as use Dalton as a gateway into the human world. You can guess where it's going.

It's easy to be cynical about this film, because frankly it's pants- all at the same time it manages to be insanely silly and morosely po-faced. But it works. I was gripped. I was very scared. I loved it. Bad Horror Movies are a genre all to themselves, so easy it is to make them and so many of them there are, but I can comfortably say that this is the best Bad Horror Movie I have ever seen. It carries such charm in it's conviction that I was won over in the end. James Wan is probably my favourite horror director working today. This might be the "worst" film of his I've seen, but it's the one I enjoyed the most, and whilst I could easily rate this a 2, I would feel mean-spirited in doing so. I would be being a bad horror fan, horror being the one genre I limit myself to enjoying unexclusively.

This is a true thrill-ride, a creepy, mental film with an ever-escalating sense of sheer terror/ridiculousness that has to be seen to believed. Which is good, because you should see this. I adored it.

I can't wait for the sequel.
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on 9 October 2011
Nowadays I often watch horror films claiming to be the scariest film yet blah blah blah when they're really just tame and add nothing to the genre. Once again I watched Insidious with same casual expectations, however this time I was pleasantly surprised. Insidious is a horror that does not simply reel off every cliche and idea one by one until the end credits, oh no. In this film, there is a real feeling of dread and terror as each new scene approaches. There will always be people that say something isn't scary (usually because they are too vain or embarrassed to admit such a thing), and many will say it about this movie. In this case they would be wrong to do so, and this film does not deserve to be thrown in with the usual mountain of over hyped pap that is available. This film is scary. Very scary. At times I found myself sitting with my jaws agape because some of the shocks & scares just hit the spot so brilliantly. I won't go into detail about the story or characters - you don't need to know any of these details - just go into it with an open mind and sit back & enjoy. Very highly recommended.
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