Rated PG-13 for thematic material, violence, terror and frightening images, and brief strong language, 102 minutes
Creepy but uneven "Insidious" has a handful of chills
The new low-budget horror film "Insidious" comes from the makers of the "Saw" franchise, but don't worry, this film is nowhere near as gratuitiously violent and bloody as those films. The film, about a family who is haunted by demonic spirits, has a few good jumps and bumps and evokes a creepy vibe, but it nearly falls apart midway through with an unexpected change in tone that dampers the film's effectiveness.
A successful middle-class family, college professor Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and his songwriting wife Renai (Rose Byrne) move into a new suburban home with their three children, including the precocious Dalton (Ty Simpkins). After Dalton unexpectedly falls on a ladder, he goes into a coma and weird things start to happen around the house with Renai seeing some highly unusual spirits that seem to surround Dalton. After they move houses and with the help of a spiritual guide and family friend named Elise (Lin Shaye), they soon discover the truth about the demons following their son.
"Insidious" is a bizarre, chilly but uneven horror film that starts off well but is hampered by a change in tone midway through that hurts the film. Director James Wan, director and producer from the "Saw" film franchise, directs the film and co-writes with his business partner Leigh Whannell (who also has a small part in the film) with some originality; as a straight horror film the film is chilling particularly in its first half. Less is always more, and the more that's revealed, the more murky "Insidious" gets, not to mention an uneven tone. It goes for more laughs than chills in the last act, an uncomfortable and striking change that throws the film off course.
Wilson and Byrne mix the right effectiveness of parental angst and confusion as Dalton's parents, though the final twists, including the mildly surprising ending and some fuzzy, otherwise ridiculous explanations make their performances an afterthought. Considering the low-budget feel of the production, "Insidious" is not a terrible film and certainly not as bad as it could've been, but it should've stuck to being an honest to goodness horror film instead of the attempts at camp horror, itself a tricky thing.
Worth maybe a look for horror film enthusiasts but you've seen better before.
Wes's Grade: C