Insidious (2010)

Immediately after moving into a new home married couple Joshua (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) with their three children experience supernatural disturbances. A few books fall off their shelves. Renai sees a man standing behind her daughter's basinet. Even the house alarms go off during the night, despite no signs of a break-in.

There is no obvious origin to what causes these events, but the finger points to someone or something.

Suddenly, one evening after going into the forbidden attic by himself and falling off a ladder, their son Dalton is rushed to the hospital after remaining unresponsive the next day. A few months later, and it's revealed that he has been in an unexplainable coma and not suffering brain damage. After staying at the hospital, Dalton is moved back into the home on life support where the supernatural occurrences worsen.

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are likeable celebrities with decent on-screen presences, but for the material that this movie was worth, it's not necessarily groundbreaking acting nor characters. Some of the dialogue even they couldn't pull off without a few guffaws.

Being a state-at-home mom / former musician, Byrne is left to care for her son with the help of a at-home nurse, tend to her other two children, and deal with the supernatural occurrences in the houses - one of which, a bloody handprint is left on Dalton's sheets - basically on her own.

Wilson on the other hand literally leaves her to "grade tests" (read fall asleep) in his classroom because he can't handle the stress of their son falling into a coma nor a haunted house (like she could). The scene in particular where he confesses his inability to nut up (or shut up) is particularly the weakest scene shared between the two.

Byrne eventually grows so terrified by what is happening in their house, the family is uprooted to another abode in hopes that their lives will take a turn for the better..except....You can't move demons.

Not one full day is spent into the new house before more spirits appear through the walls and chase Byrne around the house. (Hey!) Barbara Hershey enters as Wilson's mom who offers support to Byrne and assists to find a cure for all their problems - which Wilson denies or is in denial to do. For some reason in horror flicks it takes a death in the family or a loved one to become almost beaten to a pulp for "the man of the house" to believe something not of this world is attacking your entire family.

For what felt like an eternity during the second half of the film, Insidious screeches to a halt when Hershey's friend Elise Reiner and her Ghostbusters arrive to inspect the house, deems it demon-happy, and suggests her radical cure. Except instead of one short sentence of description, Reiner's monologue is a very length description we're just meant to follow and believe blindly.

Offering an ode to Poltergeist, it's not the house that's the problem. It's the family, specifically Patrick Wilson. He once had the talent to enter the afterlife through out of body experiences (aka astral projection). This was passed onto his son - who while in his sleep had an out of body experience and became lost in his own little world.

All of the mystery about the house and its paranormal roommates are swiftly unmysterious. What made the movie worth watching - but not worth watching again and again - is Wilson's out of body experience to find his son. Hypnotized into the realm of the dead, in complete darkness (except the glow of a lamp), and surrounded by spirits stuck in purgatory(?) Wilson wanders around the house until he finds his son and returns them into the real world.

With frightening echos, seamless cinematography and in almost complete darkness, this was by far the scariest scene of Insidious. The experience in the other realm is built with enough atmosphere I felt encased in a genuine nightmare.

How the film proves to be the antonym of Insidious is that the story is weak. For the first half of the film, you're wondering what is going on in this and the other house. During the second half, all the mystery is removed when different dots we never dotted are connected. The entire storyline is smushed.

For what it's worth, a movie about something other than ghosts was refreshing. I just wish the storyline was stronger. You never really know where the film is going to take you...and then suddenly, layer upon layer of Wilson's childhood comes out of a walk down memory lane. Everything seems tied together in a nice little bow. Then there's a last second cliffhanger to entice you for a sequel. To watch or not to watch is the question.

Rating: ★☆☆

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