** (out of four)
Just when you think you’ve found a nice, quiet house in the suburbs, your oldest son slips into a mysterious coma and freaky noises/visions suggest the house may have a more devilish presence than was noted on the closing papers. Understandably, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) must say goodbye to a good night’s sleep and hello to the prospect of demonic forces.
The buzz: Director James Wan and writer/co-star Leigh Whannell bear the blame for kicking off the astonishingly stupid seven-year franchise that was “Saw,” so “Insidious” doesn’t arrive with any assumptions about the coherent execution of an idea. Needless to say, having Wilson and Byrne star is a big step up from Whannell and Cary Elwes.
The verdict: If you’ve never seen a thriller involving eerie images of mysterious kids, creepy old people, creaky doors or demons in the window, now you can find them all in one place. In other words, “Insidious” is merely a competent re-run of every cliché in the book while amplifying every intended scare sequence with so much jarring, overdone music you want to scream, “Yes, that evil being is kinda spooky, but turn it down!” The film’s first half isn’t about anything but a dark house and ominous grandfather clocks. The predictable, nightmarish second half comes as a relief in that it delivers an actual idea, albeit a thinly conceived and moronic one.
Did you know? Josh is a teacher, and written on the blackboard behind him is the name James Wan and a drawing of “Saw” killer Jigsaw. Is the opportunity to pat yourself on the back something that’s earned or just assumed?
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