Toronto Review: James Wan's Creepy New Horror 'Insidious'

September 15, 2010

James Wan's Insidious

Holy sh*t that was scary! I'm admittedly very easily freaked out and I tend to stay away from ghost thrillers because they scare the crap out of me. But I am very glad I decided to see James Wan's Insidious tonight. I'm a fan of Wan's work (the original Saw, Dead Silence, Death Sentence) and I love watching his fresh new takes on the horror genre, and this time he has definitely created something very unique, something we've never seen before, and it's awesome. It reminded me of a modern mash-up of Poltergeist, The Exorcist, and old school Sam Raimi with some kooky (and enjoyable) laughs, but boy is it just a damn good horror movie!

Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell (also of Saw fame) introduced the midnight screening by saying that they wanted Insidious to be "this generation's Poltergeist" yet also tell a story that started out as a regular haunted house thriller but eventually turned into something much more twisted. Everything he said turned out true and it definitely did deliver. There were some very, very creepy moments in the film, some extreme scares that weren't dependent on the usual jump-out-at-you moments (they've refined their filmmaking enough to know how to scare people without those gimmicks). But best of all, at one point they throw in off-the-wall Raimi like comedic characters and moments that actually work perfectly in the film.

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne star in the film as a husband and wife with three kids, two young boys and a baby girl. They move into a house and some very creepy haunted house things start to happen. One of their sons, Dalton, goes into the attic and slips on a ladder, bangs his head, then wakes up in a coma (or so they think) the next day - which sets things in motion. Time progresses and more creepy things start to happen and eventually they decide to move to another house, which is one of those smart why-don't-they-just-move ideas, but it doesn't fix anything, and they're still being haunted by some odd demons, so of course they get a paranormal expert and that's where things get a bit kooky (think of Poltergeist but with Raimi's sensibility).

I definitely think James Wan is back on top with this and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a bidding war to get the rights (especially considering the tremendous applause at the end of the midnight screening). I don't want to give away too much, but he's also definitely going to start a new franchise with Insidious (for better or worse). There's lots of scares and thrills for those who love good horror and are looking for that, but there are also some great story twists and comedic perks that all kinds of different audiences can appreciate and enjoy. Insidious is a very original and fresh new entry in the horror genre and I totally loved it. Wan is back!

Alex's Toronto Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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  • Jeff Spicoli
  • beavis
    what are YOU smoking #1? a horror movie can get high scores if it's done well and deserves the score.......problem is - almost all horror films today ARE NOT done well. i've heard nothing but great things about "insidious" since production first started on it. i'm really stoked for this!
  • Zack
    That's nice and all. But when does it get released so WE can all see it????
    • Sweet_bubblegum817
      friday, April 1
  • DPing
    "...then wakes up in a coma (or so they think)..." Thanks for the spoiler!
  • Jimmy Love
    Looking forward to this one
  • Scotty
    "then wakes up in a coma" how's that work then? wakes up from a coma?
  • Jericho
    #6 & two suck, i avoided from seeing that in the main review so i could enjoy the movie...then i saw you two HAD to repeat like little kids anyways i still want to see this, i really like Wan's movies and i hope this is as good as you say.....
  • Saw it at TIFF as well - the fist half was great with some genuinely creepy creepy creepy scenes. The second half degenerated into laughable story arcs, bad acting, and some low budget costuming. What was with all the dry ice?
  • Ryan
    Sony just picked up the rights according to
  • norm
    Saw tho? I'm thinking skipping.
  • JTMoney
    Sounds cool even though I have never really been scared by a ghost movie (except for that damn clown in Poltergeist). Let's see if this can do the trick.
  • ben gi minh
    hey #8, who looks for strong acting performances in a horror film? do you also point out flawed logic in cartoons?
  • JimD
    Oooh if its got soem Raimiesque to it I like.
  • chris
    the first half of the movie was dine very well with a good build and scares - though I wouldn't say any of them were original. the 2nd half of the movie, when the explanations begins was so cheesily acted you almost think this is a horror movie genre satire! the comic relief characters were totally out of place and I felt Barbara Hershey was miscast and a little dramatic. but when patrick Wilson went to rescue his son, the movie just lost it for me and I couldn't wait for it to be over.
  • i will just wait til it gets released. amen
  • This picture is very interesting. I love this concept god has given us such a powerful thing.. well i really been scared by a ghost movie...
  • There were some very, very creepy moments in the film,but still I like the movie.
  • juju
    For those who saw the film, is it like dead silence , with creepy begining but with a bad end ? it's no more scary when the story advance ?
  • Just got done watching this and all I can say is HOLY SH*T THAT WAS SCARY! I love the ode to the late 70's and early 80's horror flicks like Poltergeist, Burnt Offerings, The Omen, etc. It really had that classic feel, almost like a Dario Argento movie. The demon was REAL scary looking. This movie was very well done and raised my heart rate several times!
  • jessica
    not scary at all




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