'Insidious' is not your typical ghost story. It does have a lot of the same earmarks of other American ghost tales, but the twist on the theme is what sets it apart and actually kind of hurts it ultimately. I saw the ending coming within the first 15 minutes of the film and I think that Mr. Wan was intending on the big reveal to make his film stand out. What it really did was kind of take the wind out of its sails. There is some unsettling images, creepy music, 'jump' moments and an absolute fear factor. I don't know how he could have made it better, but it just felt unfinished and a bit cliche. Why would you spend so much time and energy creating some of the coolest ghost hunter gear and characters or the grab you by the throat ghostly beings and then just slap a lame excuse for it all? I mean, the scene with Lin Shaye wearing the gas mask and talking with the little boy was creepy as hell. It accomplished exactly what it set out to do. That's what we should have seen in the ending as well. Something along those lines.Without giving too much away, for those who haven't seen it or who don't catch on to the ending right away.... it reads a little like this: (according to Netflix.com) "After moving into a new home, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) confront terrifying tribulations when their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a coma and his body starts to attract malevolent forces from a mysterious netherworld. But when the family decides to move again, hoping to leave the evil spirits behind, they realize that their problems are just beginning." Sounds pretty cut and dry, right? James Wan takes that simple concept and mushes it up in the end, but it's still above a lot of other crap that's out there and based on that, I still recommend this movie.
One of the nice things about this movie is the casting of Patrick Wilson in a nice guy role. After the bad taste he left in everyone's mouth after 'Hard Candy', he deserves some positive press. I also am a fan of Rose Byrne, especially after seeing '28 Weeks Later'.... she was a stand out in the film. She proves again in 'Insidious' that she's destined to be a big star. And finally, Lin Shaye. I think most people will associate her with her roles in the different Farrelly brothers movies she's appeared in. (they're small roles, but she's a scene stealer.... not too mention her role in the original 'A Nightmare on Elm Street')
Despite its shortcomings, 'Insidious' still deserves some notice. I give 3 out of 5 stars for giving it the old college try. James Wan continues to impress me with his film making expertise. I can only expect that time will improve his abilities and that there are still great things to come. The man knows what buttons to push to get a reaction out of his audience and that's a gift that not everyone has. In the meantime, I'll be staying in my bed at night and not looking too closely at photographs of myself.
If you like this movie, check out the three other James Wan classics: 'Saw' (2004), 'Death Sentence' and 'Dead Silence'