Shortly after moving to a new house, parents Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renée Lambert (Rose Byrne) life is shattered when their eldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) slips into a coma. Doctors are unable to explain their son’s medical condition and the family subsequently assailed by a series of supernatural happenings. Eventually, Josh’s Mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) invites paranormal investigator, Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye) and her team, to help the family. Her investigations soon determine that Dalton has the gift astral projection and has become trapped in “the further” by a demonic force. Lorraine reveals that Josh had a similar when he was a young, that he has subsequently forgotten about because it endangered his life. Can he revive his gift, enter "the further" and rescue Dalton before he his lost forever?
Director James Wan seems to have an eye for interesting depictions of families or individuals under pressure. Both Saw and Death Sentence explored these themes, producing strong performances and genuine tension in each respective movie. With Insidious Wan once again returns to this subject, viewing it through the prism of a family being preyed upon by a malevolent supernatural force. The director demonstrates a good understanding of how to build atmosphere and tension, as well as coaxing strong performances from his cast. The script is tight and the characters are likeable, a trait so often absent from many current horror films. The shocks are well constructed and not over stated. It is not until the third act when the film adopts a more theatrical approach as the hero enters "the further", in a finale reminiscent of Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist.
Insidious provides very traditional genre material packaged in a way that makes it more accessible to a mainstream contemporary audience. If you have not watched a great deal of horror films and are not familiar with specific classic titles from the seventies and eighties, then Insidious will certainly prove entertaining and scary. Viewers with a wider exposure to the genre will have to be content themselves with a polished, modern take on numerous tried and tested themes. I did enjoy Insidious and certainly think it is superior to a lot of the recent competition. I simply did not find it to be the "frightfest" that so many others claimed upon its initial release. However, others may well think otherwise.