Release Date: April 1, 2011
Plot Summary: After their young son seemingly falls into a coma, a couple moves house, only to discover it’s not always the house that’s haunted.
Review: James Wan’s name being attached to something usually equates an enjoyable viewing experience. ( I was never one for the Saw films.) This film is no exception. Although it does indulge a bit too much in the loud noises equal scary department.
Once again I feel I need to give praise to the design team on this one. Each spirit has its own demented look and succeeds in being creepy as all Hell. The main demon ( see the lurker above) doesn’t appear first, and instead we get treated to the whispers and peeping ways of this lovely weirdo.
The CGI also seems odd to me, but as this is a supernatural film, I can let it slide. The characters are, once again, quite likeable with Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne playing our main characters, Josh and Renai. Neither actor feels like they’re here for the paycheck and put in good performances. The child actors have avoided the pitfall of being annoyingly precocious, and don’t make me want to stab my eardrums with a sharpened spoon. Although the violin shrieks felt like someone was doing so at times.
Yes,this movie went the route of quiet scenes of tension and characterization, but decided to turn it up to eleven during creepy moments. I’d rather the demon be shown with a subtle cue to heighten tension, rather than soil pants and cause heart attacks, but there’s still plenty to enjoy here. A major part of this enjoyment comes from the comedy duo of Specs and Tucker ( Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson). Although not fully incompetent, they do come across as in over their heads and geeky. Joining them, and keeping them from tripping over their own feet, is Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye.) Elise is a badass, and she is consistently great throughout the sequels. She even gets in on the demon smacking action in Insidious: Chapter Two.
The cinematography is excellent and knows how to make every scene feel odd and eerie with multiple lighting and camera tricks. This eerie feeling is accentuated when things finally enter the Further ( sort of like purgatory or Hell, and not a place you’d want to visit.) Here, the lighting team gets to show their skills and the Lipstick Face Demon ( yes that’s the official name) gets to show of his odd little workshop, along with a captive Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Josh’s son, much like Josh,has the ability to astral project. The entire reason any of this film occurs is due to his soul being lost. This leaves the body open to be inhabited by other spirits, should the soul not return. This little fact leads into the surprise ending, which leads right into the sequel, as Josh rescues Dalton but brings an unwanted guest back.
Highlights: The ghost designs and in particular,the demon design, are nice and creepy,and not overdone or CGI’d to death. The film takes a few risks and has jumpscares occur during the day, which few films have done. The characters are great, and the sequels show how Elise got to this point. ( I may review these at a later date.) I only wish they’d toned down the scare chords and relied more on subtle terror.
Recommendations: Buy this one, rent it, find it on a legal streaming site. While you’re at it, find the sequels. The fourth film will be out this October, so support them by buying a ticket or DVD when out comes out.
Next week, we return to the salt mine that is bad horror. Until, then, avoid astral projecting and sleep tight.