Insidious (2010)
By: Rip on March 22, 2012  | 
Icon | Region B | 2.40:1, 1080p | English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 | 102 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Barbara Hershey
Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
Country: USA
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After Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) move their family in to a new home, one of their three children falls in to an unexplained coma. Around the same time, the Lamberts begin to experience a number of very strange occurrences in the house and though no-one wishes to admit it, everything seems to point toward a haunting. When the bizarre visions and odd noises begin to take their toll, they decide to move house all over again, only to find the problem continues. Enter Elise Reiner (Lin Shaye), a lady with vast knowledge of the paranormal, and after spending a little time in the Lambert's new abode, she informs them of what is really going on and how they should go about rectifying it.

The makers of Saw, writer/actor Leigh Whannel and director James Wan, have served up an old fashioned ghost flick with Insidious and after hearing a lot of positive buzz (and some not so positive) about the film, I was looking most forward to reviewing it. I grew up with classic old spookers like Robert Wise's The Haunting and Jack Clayton's The Innocents, and enjoy nothing better than switching off the lights at night and having the bejeezuz scared out of me. Unfortunately, after a rather stirring first half, Insidious failed to do the same for me, with a stumbling and ultimately silly second half. The first two acts of the film are intense and unnerving (aside from some badly misplaced comic relief that involves an on screen appearance by writer Whannel), with some very fine direction by Wan and terrific performances by Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and especially Barbera Hershey and Lin Shaye. Sure, there's the obligatory jump scares and visual shocks, but they work for the most part. Sadly, everything is brought undone in the last act, when Wan and Whannel give in to temptation by throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, as they say. In Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper's classic Poltergeist (which I cannot help but compare this to, given it borrows so liberally from that film, amongst others), the film makers wisely resisted showing us what is on 'the other side', after Jobeth Williams travelled through a portal to another realm in order to save her daughter. With Insidious, there is a very similar scenario (in this case, involving astral travel) where Wan and Whannel choose to show us what is on that other side and, disappointingly, it's all rather uninspired and more likely to induce unintended laughs.

The problem with this film, at least in the second half, is one of restraint. There simply isn't any and this proves to be terminal, as the entire film gradually falls apart and staggers toward a very obvious finale. Whilst it may sound as though I didn't like Insidious, I did in fact like a lot of things about it and you, the reader, may love it. I believe James Wan and Leigh Whannel are very talented, and know how to make films. It's just that sometimes less is more.
Icon Entertainment have served up yet another strong HD transfer. Framed at 2:40:1, this 1080p transfer looks great. Whilst the intended cool coloured palette serves to take out some detail, it's still all there in the close-ups. The strong reds, yellows and blues that appear in the latter half of the film look fantastic. Good stuff overall. English subtitles are included for the hearing impaired.
As with the picture quality, the single 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track feautured here is of a high order and is exactly as it should be for a film of this type. The surrounds are alive and active with all things that go bump in the night. Plenty of bass and whispering voices...
Extra Features
Not a lot to speak of, we get:

'Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar' - a 10 minute interview session with the cast and crew. Presented in HD too.

'On Set With Insidious' - an 8 minute promo piece. Pretty standard stuff and also in HD.

'Insidious Enitiies' - a 6 minute piece focusing on the monsters in the movie.

'Insidious' - Theatrical Trailer

Plus 3 trailers for other features from Icon Entertainment.
The Verdict
Insidious starts out as a solid and fairly spooky entry in to the ghost flick canon, but ulitmately falls short and is almost derailed completely by a pretty silly second half. It's not a bad film, and I know it has its fans, but it really could have been so much more.
Movie Score
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Overall Score

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