The names James Wan and Leigh Whannell may not mean much to you… unless you’re a horror fan, in which case the pairing will send a chill down your spine. The director – writer team brought one of the most influential horror movies of the last decade to the screen—“Saw”—and are back together for “Insidious,” a new exercise in eeriness starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne.
The “Insidious” trailer doesn’t give away much of the plot and neither will I. I can tell you that Wilson and Byrne play parents whose child slips into a deep trance-like state. He’s not in a coma, the doctors say, adding, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Not exactly the words you want to hear from your GP. As the months pass strange things start happening in the house and when ghostly figures appear it becomes clear that something insidious is happening in the young couple’s home.
“Insidious” is one of those movies that requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief. For instance when Byrne’s character starts experiencing odd things—strange sounds, children appearing out of nowhere, faces in mirrors—they aren’t chalked up to the sounds of their new house settling or some kind of hallucination, nope, instead of looking for a worldly explanation this bunch’s first assumption is that something supernatural is happening. Luckily Wilson’s mother (Barbara Hershey) happens to have a psychic investigator on speed dial. Get past those leaps of faith and you’re left with a movie that is shrouded with loads of atmosphere but short on actual scares.
Eerie rather than scary, “Insidious” will play on your fears of displacement and feelings of helplessness, but the unless you find the idea of an otherworldly spirit listening to Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” terrifying you won’t be crawling out of your skin. Wan puts away the torture porn of “Saw,” replacing it with lots of dry ice and creepy costumes but keeps the fear level on a par with that of walking through an amusement park’s haunted house.