Year:  2011
Director:  James Wan
Cast:  Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins
Fright Meter Award Winner:  Best Horror Movie, Best Supporting Actress

Review by featured writer David Harlequin, Editor-in-Chief of STIFF Magazine

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne star in this modern day reimagining of the classic “haunted house” story. The plot is simple enough; their young son, following a head injury, falls into a coma and becomes possessed by evil spirits, and the hauntings begin. Thankfully Grandma knows all about this sort of thing and apparently knows just what to do. James Wan and Leigh Whannell (of “Saw” & “Paranormal Activity” fame) really seem to have been watching a lot of 1970’s haunted house movies in the preparation to make “Insidious,” because they use pretty much every positive aspect they can from those films. The tension built up in the opening 45-minutes is very thick, and the scares are nicely varied. Even though a lot of them are expected, there are still a lot of unexpected moments and a whole lot of dread-filled camera movements through empty rooms that really ratcheted up the tension. The film's scare plan is also well-done, with some very subtle flashes paired with overt “we're trying to scare you!” moments throughout the film's opening half. The second half of the film isn’t quite as good as the first, but it still seems to do a fine-enough job of closing out the story.

Overall, “Insidious” was actually much, much better than originally expected, especially from a PG-13 rated, 2011 Hollywood horror film. Not that it is an instant-classic or anything, but it was actually enjoyable enough  not have any major complaints. The production values were outstanding, the acting was believable, and the story was solid. As a haunted house movie, it was pretty top-notch and can easily hold its own with any of its subgenre peers. As a supernatural horror, it was less successful, but still quite a bit of fun.  Thus far, it’s pretty easy to argue this as one of the best horror films of 2011. 

Fright Meter Grade (Courtesy of David Harlequin):

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