A Picture of Horror: Insidious

It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a nice, solid horror movie, but since Insidious: Chapter Two has just been released I feel it might be a good time to look at the first Insidious film. So, with all the lights on and the curtains open to let in the sunshine, let me tell you all about it, hopefully with minimal spoilers.


The film opens on a young family – parents, two kids (boys) and a baby (girl). They’re just unpacking the last of their stuff. Horror connoisseurs, can I get an ‘ooooooh’? We all know that new houses in horror films are inevitably not good things, especially when they’re actually fairly old houses with new people in them. At any rate, this family move in and almost immediately it becomes apparent that things are moving around when nobody could have moved them, books are falling off shelves, all the usual horror tropes. One of the boys, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) ventures into the loft and falls off a ladder when one of the rungs unexpectedly snaps. He’s more startled than hurt, despite a nasty bruise on his head, and is put to bed as usual.

The next morning, his father Josh (Patrick Wilson), can’t wake him up. Three months later, though doctors can’t explain his condition, he’s brought back to the house still comatose. His brother says he doesn’t like it when he ‘walks around at night’. And his mother, Renai (Rose Byrne) is having some very strange experiences in the house… Will convincing Josh that the family should relocate be enough to change their luck? And who’s this friend Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey) suggests they consult?

Well, if I told you any more it would ruin some of the exciting (not to mention unnerving) twists and turns of the story. Rest assured, though, that if you want something to send a shiver down your spine and leave you a little creeped out, this is your film. The acting is consistently good – including from the kids –  and Lin Shaye as Elise, in particular, certainly gives a memorable performance.

Given that there are several kinds of horror film, it’s worth pointing out that this one draws its power chiefly from suspense and subtle effects – at least until its dramatic conclusion – and there’s almost no blood or gore involved. It’s more of a creeping unease with some jumpy moments that will have you laughing at yourself in the cold light of day, after the credits have rolled, but lingers when the film’s over.

The effects are good, the soundtrack is effective (‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips‘ will never be the same again) and all in all it’s a darn good film. The emotional moments between family members often serve to make you forget that you’re watching something scary at all, lulling you into a sort of family-drama sense of security. This feeling cannot be trusted. You’ve been warned.

I’d give this film 4 out of 5.

Eleanor Musgrove (needs to be told when it’s safe to come out from behind the sofa)

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This entry was posted in Film/Movie, Issue Thirty-Two, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Picture of Horror: Insidious

  1. Jean Trinh says:

    I really need to watch the first one to get ready for the second!

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