Best known for directing the the inventive torture horror Saw (2004), James Wan’s haunted house ghost story lacks the teeth of his first success. Starring Patrick Wilson as Josh and Rose Byrne as his wife Renai, Insidious tells the story of their family moving house for a fresh start. This all turns sour as their son mysteriously falls into a coma; provoking thoughts of possession etc.
Written by previous Wan collaborator Leigh Whannell, the first half is very creepy, mysterious, and manages to keep the viewer guessing. There are some very unsettling moments, all the while the screechy discordant music composed by Joseph Bishara ramps up the tension. However, the second half of the film attempts to explain the hauntings and consequently destroys any atmosphere; the movie then runs like a paranormal X-Files episode.
I find it strange that Josh and Renai can afford such big houses on one teacher’s wage, but at least the big houses allow the camera to sweep around which it regularly does: there are several lovely tracking shots. Keeping the camera moving makes for a very stylish film, despite the usual tropes of a haunted house thriller. I say usual tropes, there is more going on than the usual ghost story, it’s just that the scares are nothing new.
Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are both very good, and play off each other in a convincing way, each carrying their own baggage into the situation they find themselves in. It is their relationship that sells the film; if we weren’t invested in the characters, the events would all be meaningless. I was initially going to call this movie Insipidous, but a second viewing convinced me otherwise. A suitably inventive and creepy movie, let down by a third act that tries to explain and understand the events surrounding the Lambert family. But, you know, that's just, like, my opinion man.