Toronto Review: James Wan's Creepy New Horror 'Insidious'
by Alex Billington
September 15, 2010
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