Directed by: James Wan
Distributed by: FilmDistrict
Written by Jeff Sparks
“Insidious” is similar if not the same as every other movie that James Wan has directed–fine. From the top down it’s a cliche-filled demonic possession story about a family where every eerie scene ends in a jumpscare. In this one, a couple is haunted by demonic spirits who seek to possess the body of their comatose son whose soul has been trapped in a demonic realm. Patrick Wilson, Rose Bryne, Barbara Hershey, and Lin Shaye star. Released in 2010, the film feels like a precursor to Wan’s more well-known “The Conjuring” which hits a lot of the same story beats and cliches that “Insidious” covers. The first cliche that got on my nerves is when Rose Bryne’s Renai begins having supernatural encounters. After multiple mysterious break-ins and bloody handprints found around the house, her doubtful husband Josh (Wilson) agrees to move. When the incidents continue to occur at the new house Josh’s doubts only increase even after his mother (Hershey) has her own experiences with the supernatural. That type of plotline is overdone in far too many movies, and in “Insidious” it’s repetitive and nonsensical to the point that it’s stretched throughout the film.
While I find Wan overrated, he surely isn’t talentless. There’s one scene where Renai is hunting around her house after she spots a ghost lurking down the hall. When she turns the corner there’s an open door on her left and one on her right on either edge of the screen. “Where is the danger?” We wonder as she hesitates to choose a path. It’s an interesting design to start off a scene but it’s ruined by the climax that ends with a simple loud noise and jump scare which is typical for most films that Wan has either directed or written. And that’s my problem with his work. He shows skill, but no vision. That particular scene is a perfect example of that. It starts in a way that you wouldn’t expect, but it ends exactly the way you think it’s going to. The one unique concept here is this demonic realm they call “The Further.” Instead of having the film end in a typical exorcism, a supernatural expert (Shaye) helps the family extract the boy from the realm by having Josh enter it. Besides its silly name, the realm is actually a spooky place. As Josh travels through this shadow world we don’t know what to expect, easily making this the most tense part of the film.