Director: James Wan
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson
The first time you watch Insidious, the bloodless, old-school scare show from Saw director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell, the most likely reaction is unnerved fear, mixed with the exhilaration of realizing you’ve actually watched a genuinely scary movie—the total opposite of Hollywood’s horror output in recent years. But it’s not until the second or third time that one sits with Insidious that Wan’s low-budget remixing of old-school haunted house movie tropes really earns its stripes.
In ways similar to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (which, of course, is superior—relax, purists), Insidious maintains its scariness upon repeat viewings. Credit the slow, methodical pacing, which allows the film’s well-timed jump scares to impact greatly (you’ll never look at a baby’s crib the same again), and Whannell’s knack for creepily iconic imagery, such as a spirit that looks like Ozzy Osbourne in drag, malevolent ghouls that resemble those in the slept-on horror gem Carnival Of Souls, and a final shot reminiscent of Donald Sutherland’s last hurrah in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.
The frights come often and hit hard in Insidious, and it’s been far too long since we’ve said that about a horror flick not made in France or Spain.