Review: Insidious (15)

Undated Film Still Handout from Insidious. Pictured: (l-r) Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye as Elise Reiner. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Momentum Pictures. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.
Undated Film Still Handout from Insidious. Pictured: (l-r) Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye as Elise Reiner. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Momentum Pictures. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.
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IF James Wan’s supernatural horror had ended abruptly after the first hour, it would probably be the creepiest thriller to haunt the big screen since the original Paranormal Activity.

Suspense cranks up relentlessly until a large knot of tension pins us to our seats, unable to look away from the unfolding terror.

Unfortunately, screenwriter Leigh Whannell, co-creator of the bloodthirsty Saw films, engineers a hare-brained second act that completely alters the mood.

Insidious is truly a film of two halves, the latter section nodding and winking affectionately to Poltergeist as the central characters journey between the corporeal and ethereal realms to exorcise a malevolent spirit from the family home.

Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) move into a new house with sons Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor).

Late one night, Dalton hears a strange sound in the attic and foolishly goes to investigate. He glimpses a shadow and lets out a blood-curdling scream.

The next morning, Foster tries to wake his brother but the boy has slipped into a coma.

Insidious initially holds us in a vice-like grip, following the Paranormal Activity template by escalating the threat to the family from creaking doors and strange shadows to full-blown physical violence.