There hasn’t been much in the way of original content in the horror genre. After years of visceral torture porn, remakes and franchises we have come to accept it as being the norm. Much has been made of the yearly quota of instalments (and the stifling effect it has had on quality) and with James Wan’s (co-creator of the Saw franchise) new film Insidious it marks a return to a more traditional framework of horror; that of the haunted house.

Except Insidious is not quite what it seems. Differentiating itself from more recent haunted house fare, such as Paranormal Activity, it plays on the conventions of the haunted house before evolving into something even more familiar (haunted child) but deviates enough to make it feel fresh.

Upon investigating a noise in the attic Dalton falls into an inexplicable coma…

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are Josh and Renai Lambert, a young married couple who have just moved in to a new house with their young son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and their newborn baby. Upon investigating a noise in the attic Dalton falls into an inexplicable coma. Examining all avenues available to them they eventually find out that their son is trapped in a realm called “the further” and that evil spirits are attempting to use his body as a gateway into the real world.

Effectively scary and atmospheric, Insidious is very much your traditional horror with jump scares, jump cuts and a customary orchestrated score. What elevates this film a little above its contemporaries are the relationships between Byrne (anxiety ridden, tired) and Wilson (dismissive, reluctant to get involved) which create some dramatic tension as well as the truly eerie atmosphere that Wan conjures up. It is not a classic but in light of its budget (a paltry $1.5 million) Insidious is one of the more interesting attempts in recent horror cinema.

3 Stars

Image courtesy of Insidious

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