Review: Insidious (2010)


“From the producers of Paranormal Activity and Sinister” – hold on, that’s not right.

“From the producers of PA and Insidious” – wait, that’s not it either.

Before Sinister and after PA, came Insidious – right, I got it now!

In an age where every new horror seems to be tag-lined with “the scariest movie in years” and “from the producers of…” the chill factor conveyer belt keeps on churning at a frenetic rate. Is it likely to slowly and surely dilute the well gotten gains of PA, the standout frightener of recent years for me?

In danger of mind-melding myself after recently watching Sinister, this similar horror-chiller offering from the director of Saw, blazed the same trail prior with spooky bump in the night happenings in eerie houses and freaky child bothering entities.

Treading much of the same ground as PA, without the real cam angle, the same opening door frights, thuds and chills are effective in an immensely taught first half where Insidious refreshingly diverts soon in; a house move for the victimised family as son Dalton falls into a mysterious coma soon after Rose Byrne’s mum, understandably, can’t take much more of the unexplained paranormal violence as absentee Dad, Patrick Wilson saunters along, blissfully ignorant?

insidious maul

Just like PA, the brilliant device of, not the house but the person being hounded works a charm as the same strange happenings continue and worsen as all manner of outer world beings project into our realm; appearing without warning within continuous tracking shots, often outside of the predictable cover of night, making Insidious deliciously edgy.

That is until a potentially disastrous turn of plot and pace that undoes some of what the first half achieves plagiarising Poltergeist with the appearance of psychic Elise (Lin Shaye) and her Ghostbusters, along with one over expositional passage that numbingly explains the reasons for the lad’s sorry state, a nether world called “The Further”.  Another segment from slightly creepy grandma Barbara Hershey reveals a pivotal family secret and a very disturbing silhouetted beast to give a genuinely chilling piece of imagery, but the later reveal doesn’t quite match the unseen shadowy (Phantom – you’ll see) Menace and mystery.

insidious demon

But the offering of another worldly space and time explanation adds something to the well-trodden premise of child possession; it just lacks the required delivery to feel in-keeping with the mystery prior.

Once within “The Further” it all gets a little predictable and silly, but a brilliant sucker punch finale goes some way towards rescuing proceedings.

When effectively done, as is most of the better first half, there is much to admire here. With some genuine goosebump inducing imagery proving to be more powerful than the reveal, Insidious is still a decent fright vehicle overall.

We can expect more “from the producers of…” in next year’s sequel, but for now those manufacturers have still managed to keep their brand of horror neat, rather than completely watered down.


Insidious 3 stars

27 responses to “Review: Insidious (2010)

    • Thanks for the praise.

      It certainly did, and when it did it was at its best, it didn’t repeat enough of the good. Within The Further I did not like!

    • that’s my point, it’s a tag to sell something. There have been some decent offerings in horror/chillers in recent years and this and Sinister didn’t really need a tag to sell, I think there was enough about them to be decent in their own right. I think we are ready for something new again in horror though.

  1. I actually was really liking this thing until he went into “The Further” – I thought that was so dumb it ruined everything for me.

    Excellent write-up!

    • Thanks for the praise. I was really liking it too and I switched off a bit in the further. did like the very last bit though, redeemed it a bit.

    • Thanks Anthony. Certain bits were very creepy. When the demon appears behind the dad 😦 when the kid is running through the house in the day 😦 and a bit just before it where you see him facing a wall in the corridor as the mum is walking through, did you notice!?

  2. I don’t think thy were necesaily copying Poltergeist, I thought it was more paying the homage to that one. I agree with The Further scenes, the film was weaker in the second half, but comparing to all those crappy new horror movies I still found it to be one of the better additions to the genre in recent years.

    • I wanted to view it as homage too, but I found it far too blatant for that. It was indeed very decent and there is some crap out there for sure in an often oversubscribed category. Thanks Sati!

    • Faultless, hi praise. I will check your out. I liked it enough to recommend but some bits I was not happy with. ‘Maniac’ is supposed to be good with Elijah Wood, you heard of it?

  3. Wasn’t overly keen on this one, man. It started very well but lost it’s way in the second. Man, why are good horrors so hard to come by these days?

    • I know, I think the next big thing is gonna hit very soon just when we least expect it, I can feel it. It comes in cycles. There have been some decent ones, but nothing brilliant for a few years now.
      In answer to your question, I think it’s because it is one of those genres that constantly has to be inventive, just like sci-fi. We have pretty much seen it all in Horror when you consider how old Horror films actually are now, so it always has to reinvent -that’s hard.

      • Thats a fair point, man. The best of the horror genre seems to be coming from spain at the moment. They are churning out some good. All-be-it, it del Toro (a Mexican) who behind most of them. Theres one out recently called “Sleep Tight” that i want to see. Nothing to do wth del Toro though.

      • I know you didn’t like PA too much, but for me I thought it was the last good mainstream one and Cabin in the Woods, if that sort of counts. Foreign – Let the Right one in, did you ever see Martyrs, that’s going back a bit though? sleep tight, if the title is anything to go from that’s pretty ominous 😉

      • I like PA, Cabin in the Woods and Let the Right One In but they didn’t match The Orphanage for me.
        Yeah, check out Sleep Tight. It sounds good.

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