"Insidious" is like an attractive woman who keeps on giving you the eye, leading you on and then just when you think your luck is in she shows her true colours and leaves you feeling a fool. You see the first half of "Insidious" gives us classic haunted house horror, in fact very traditional haunted house horror with things which go bump in the night and it borders on being phenomenal thanks to the creation of great atmosphere. Then there is the second half which tries to take things in a new direction with some good ideas but an introduction of humour which simply ruins things, wrecks the atmosphere completely which had been so intense through out the first half. This may work for a new generation of horror fans who won't mind the sudden shift in tone but it annoyed the hell out of me.
Shortly after moving to a new home Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert's (Patrick Wilson) life is turned upside down when their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls from a ladder in the attic and the next day doesn't wake up, somehow having fallen in to a coma. But that isn't all that is turning their life upside down as Renai begins to hear and see strange things around the house and when it gets too much they decide to move to a new home. Unfortunately for them what ever it is messing with their lives has followed them and so they call in paranormal expert Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) to try and get to the bottom of what is haunting them and why.
Here is the first bit of good news as if you know your movies you will most likely recognize the names James Wan and Leigh Whannell as the guys who gave us "Saw" but this isn't a gore fest like that. Nope instead for the first half of "Insidious" we are in haunted house territory, not exactly new territory but when done right it can be brilliant. And the first half is brilliant as whilst we are in the world of things which go bump in the night the atmosphere is spot on, so perfect that the weight of ominous expectation weighs heavy on your chest. It is a long time since I have encountered a movie which got this so right and it makes it all the more disappointing by what I am about to say.
When it comes to the second half of "Insidious" it tries to be clever by developing the story and taking it off on a different tangent but in doing so the atmosphere it created is wrecked and it becomes almost comical. It doesn't help that we get introduced to paranormal investigators Tucker and Specs as these are purposefully comical characters and from then on it just becomes a joke. I won't say what happens other than it started to remind me more of the TV series "Charmed" rather than a horror movie.
Having said all that it is hard not to be impressed by what Wan and Whannell have achieved on a reported $1,500,000 budget. They may not have had the money to create great effects but during the first half they created shock and atmosphere which makes up for what may have been intentional cheapness.
What this all boils down to is that "Insidious" starts so well delivering the atmosphere which is lacking in so much modern horror. But it then feels like the movie sells out and goes for comical visual horror to appease a modern audience who need in your face shocks.