Monday, 6 February 2012

Insidious (2011)

Insidious is a 2011 American independent supernatural horror film written by Leigh Whannell, directed by James Wan, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, and Barbara Hershey. The story centers on a couple whose son inexplicably enters a comatose state and becomes a vessel for ghosts in an astral dimension. The film was released in theaters on April 1, 2011. In terms of cost-to-gross ratio, it is the most profitable film of 2011. The film has been nominated for 3 awards and actors Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson have both been nominated for the 2011 Scream Awards for Best Horror Actor and Best Horror Actress.

The Plot

In present day, Renai and Josh Lambert (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) have recently moved into a new house with their three children. One morning, Renai begins looking through a family photo album with her son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins). He asks why there are no pictures of Josh when he was a child. Renai reasons that he has always been camera shy. Dalton tells Renai he is scared of his new room. One day, Dalton hears something in the attic. When he goes to investigate he sees something off screen that scares him and takes a fall when the attic ladder breaks. The next day Josh goes to wake Dalton, but he does not move. They rush him to the hospital where the doctors say he is in an unexplained coma.

Three months later Dalton is moved home, still in the coma. Disturbing events begin to occur. Renai believes the house is haunted when she begins to see and hear people in the house. She confronts Josh about the events and the family soon moves to another house. In the new house, increasingly violent and supernatural events begin to happen again. Josh's mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), contacts a friend, Elise Reiner (Lin Shaye), who deals with paranormal activities. The family, Elise, and her team go into Dalton's room. There, Elise sees and describes a figure to one of her two assistants, who draws a black figure with a red face and dark hollow eyes on the ceiling of Dalton's room who hisses the name Steve.

Elise explains to Renai and Josh that Dalton has the ability to astral project while sleeping and that he has been doing it since he was very young. The reason he is in a comatose state is that he has travelled too far into different spiritual worlds due to a lack of fear (he believes the projections are dreams), becoming lost in a land called 'The Further,', which is a place for tormented souls of the dead. Skeptical at first, Josh later relents when he discovers Dalton had been drawing pictures which resemble the demonic figure Elise described. Elise and Lorraine reveal to the couple that Josh also can astral project, and was terrorized by a terrifying spirit during his childhood. Lorraine shows them pictures from Josh's childhood, revealing a shadowy old woman nearer and nearer to Josh in each picture. Elise suggests that Josh should use his ability to find and help return Dalton's soul. Josh agrees. Josh projects himself into The Further and finds and frees his son who has been captured by the red-faced demon called Steve. In search of their physical bodies, Josh and Dalton flee the demon who pursues them. Just before the two awaken, Josh abandons his son in order to confront the shadowy old woman who appears to be inside his house, along with several other spirits, even though he and his son were frantically fleeing the red-faced demon. As he shouts for her to get away from him, she retreats into the darkness. Moments later, Josh awakens, as does Dalton, just as all the spirits vanish.

With the family now happily reunited, Renai, Dalton and Lorraine happily chat in the kitchen as Elise and Josh pack up from the long night. Josh hands Elise the pictures from his childhood, and as she takes them from his hands she senses something and takes a picture of Josh on her digital camera. He then goes into a rage, claiming she knows that he doesn't like to get photographed. Renai hears a scuffle and comes into the room to find Elise dead and Josh missing. She begins to run frantically about the house searching for Josh, and picks up Elise's camera. The picture in the camera is not of Josh, but of the old woman. Josh's hand is placed on her shoulder, and as she turns to face him she gasps in horror.


Insidious has received generally positive reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 68% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 157 reviews, with an average score of 6.0. The critical consensus is: "Aside from a shaky final act, Insidious is a very scary and very fun haunted house thrill ride." Roger Ebert gave the film 2 1/2 stars out of 4 saying, "It depends on characters, atmosphere, sneaky happenings and mounting dread. This one is not terrifically good, but moviegoers will get what they're expecting." Steve O' Brien from WCBS-FM says " Most Terrifying Film since The Exorcist".

A number of negative reviews reported that the second half of the film did not match the development of the first. Mike Hale of The New York Times wrote that "the strongest analogue for the second half of Insidious is one that the filmmakers probably weren’t trying for: it feels like a less poetic version of an M. Night Shyamalan fairy tale." Similarly, James Berardinelli commented, "if there's a complaint to be made about Insidious, it's that the film's second half is unable to live up to the impossibly high standards set by the first half." Ethan Gilsdorf of The Boston Globe wrote that "the film begins with promise" but "the crazy train of Insidious runs fully off the rails when the filmmakers go logical and some of the strange gets explained away as a double shot of demonic possession and astral projection."

Positive reviews have focused on the filmmakers' ability to build suspense. John Anderson of The Wall Street Journal explains "what makes a movie scary isn't what jumps out of the closet. It's what might jump out of the closet. The blood, the gore and the noise of so many fright films miss the horrifying point: Movie watchers are far more convinced, instinctively, that what we don't know will most assuredly hurt us... Insidious establishes that these folks can make a film that operates on an entirely different level, sans gore, or obvious gimmicks. And make flesh crawl." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell admire all sorts of fright, from the blatant to the insidiously subtle. This one lies at an effective halfway point between those extremes." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone commented: "Here's a better-than-average spook house movie, mostly because Insidious decides it can haunt an audience without spraying it with blood." Christy Lemire of the Associated Press stated: "Insidious is the kind of movie you could watch with your eyes closed and still feel engrossed by it. It's a haunted-house thriller filled with all the usual creaking doors, groaning floors and things that go bump in the night, but it'll also grab you with some disturbing, raspy whispers on a baby monitor, a few melancholy piano plunkings and the panicky bleating of an alarm as a front door is mysteriously flung open in the middle of the night."

The Cast

Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert
 Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert
 Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert
 Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
 Leigh Whannell as Specs
 Angus Sampson as Tucker
 Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert
 Andrew Astor as Foster Lambert

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