Directed by James Wan. Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, Andrew Astor. (2011, PG-13, 102 min.)

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 1, 2011

Insidious is the haunted-house genre's equivalent of one of those old carnival spook-house rides. Initially promising, it soon becomes apparent that the only thrills to be found are of the rickety, spring-loaded, papier-mâché variety, heavily daubed with garish fright lighting and bargain-basement "gotcha" moments – which is odd because both Wan and co-writer/star Whannell have recently gone on the record in a spate of promotional interviews for Insidious lamenting the lack of proper atmospherics and the surfeit of fake scares currently subsuming their (and my own) beloved horror genre. Taking a cue from recent haunting/possession films such as Paranormal Activity and the superior The Last Exorcism, Insidious follows the Lamberts, a suburban American Everyfamily as it first comes to grips with and then battles a malevolent force that has lured young son Dalton (Simpkins) into a supernatural coma. Insidious is littered with elements of genre classics (Poltergeist, The Exorcist, The Evil Dead) and nonclassics (Ovidio G. Assonitis' Beyond the Door) alike, but by the horrifically unshocking end of the film you feel as though you've just watched a lamest-hits reel of lesser genre fare. (There's a distinct air of rote, late-period Lucio Fulci-ness about the whole thing.) Granted, Shaye's gas-mask-wearing psychic is a hoot, but she's no Zelda Rubinstein, and even Hershey as the grandmother with a dark past and key knowledge of the current peril, underplays to the point of apnea. The only remotely entertaining aspects of Insidious come from Whannell and Sampson as a comic pair of hypercompetitive hipster ghost hunters, and even that schtick is repeated ad nauseam. Don't even get me started on the sublime asininity of the cloven-hoofed, fire-faced demon thingee that, for no reason I can fathom, resembles, almost exactly, Darth Maul. Seriously. Don't.

More James Wan Films
The Conjuring 2
Semi-retired ghost hunters make a comeback in the second installment of James Wan's spooky series

Marc Savlov, June 10, 2016

Furious 7
Furiouser and furiouser

Marc Savlov, April 3, 2015

More by Marc Savlov
The Devil's Candy
Heavy metal and Satanism in a rural Texas town

April 21, 2017

Free Fire
A delirious shoot'em-up comedy

April 21, 2017


Insidious, James Wan, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, Andrew Astor

This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
Paris la Blanche
at Texas Spirit Theater at the Bullock Texas State History Museum
UT Baseball
at Disch-Falk Field
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)