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Shortly after moving, a family discovers that dark spirits have possessed their home and that their son has inexplicably fallen into a coma. Trying to escape the haunting and save their son, they move again only to discover that it was not their house that was haunted.
For more about Insidious and the Insidious Blu-ray release, see Insidious Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 6, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Barbara Hershey
» See full cast & crew
Insidious Blu-ray Review
A PG-13 Horror movie that works.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 6, 2011
I'm scared of this house.
Insidious is a beast of a Horror movie. All signs point to it being a clunker, but that, as they say, is why they make the movie. Insidious defies all odds, overcoming its rating and Paranormal Activity rip-off nuts-and-bolts basic plot outline by molding itself into a tip-top, ship-shape, flat-out awesome Horror movie. Is it perfect? No, but it comes pretty close. Is it one of the genre's finest offerings of the past, well, in quite a long time? Absolutely yes, it is. Will it be remembered as one of Horror's all-time greats? That might be stretching it, but narrow the field down to eliminate the slashers and splatter-fests and compare it with more like-minded movies, then yes, it's right up there with the best of the best. Insidious is one of those rare movies that manages to use stock elements to the greatest effect possible, from the strict adherence to jump scares courtesy of sharp musical cues all the way down to the obligatory twist at the end, but Director James Wan and Writer Leigh Whannell, both of whom previously collaborated on Saw, have toned down the gore and cranked up the suspense. Just as Saw redefined the "Torture Horror" subset, so too is Insidious primed to redefine the suspenseful and psychological Paranormal Chillers in a way that Paranormal Activity just couldn't quite accomplish.
Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) are proud parents of two young sons and a newborn daughter. They're also new homeowners, and their new abode is a spacious but spooky dwelling that they're soon going to regret moving into. When one of their sons, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), has an accident in the home's dusty cobweb-infested attic, he comes away with only a few bumps and bruises and two relieved parents. Unfortunately, Dalton doesn't wake up the next morning. He's alive, but in a comatose state. Doctors are uncertain what could be causing his problem, and after three months in this hospital, it's back home to the comforts of his own bedroom, surviving through a series of tubes and machines that his mother has learned to attend. As the family tries to resume a normal routine with Dalton laid up in his bedroom and his future uncertain, mysterious happenings begin plaguing the home. Intruders slip in and out, alarms blare in the middle of the night, and a baby monitor picks up the spooky, ghostly whispers emanating from some unknown source. It's not long until the house has succumb to a full-out haunting. Try as they may and do all they can, the family can't escape the terror. It'll take much more than they ever bargained for to save their son, their home, and their sanity.
There are plenty of elements that contribute to Insidious's success. Atmosphere, direction, music, sound effects, script, writing, and lighting all factor into the end product and work in harmony to create one of the most bone-chilling, skin-crawling, incredibly absorbing Horror pictures in quite some time, and it works even in the "watered down" world of PG-13 Horror because the filmmakers have placed the greatest importance on those most critical-to-success factors listed above. Insidious may start a little slowly and routinely, but the second and third acts represent an almost visionary leap forward in the way the picture exudes so much energy, fear, and self-confidence as the ball really gets rolling. Indeed, as the picture's name suggests, things begin almost mundanely as the film generates a nice little pretext through the use of standby elements such as creaky floorboards, squealing door hinges, dark and dusty attics, and unidentifiable sounds coming over the baby monitor, all effectively setting a particular tone that moves audiences closer and closer to the edge of their seats until all hell breaks loose and the picture goes this way and that through plenty of downright frightening moments while still maintaining its honest and absorbing equilibrium. The slow buildup from general household annoyances to goose bump-worthy happenings all the way to flat-out oh-my-gosh skin-crawling terror is incredibly well done, the picture only gaining steam from its shadowy opening visuals and its blood-red credits all the way to the shocking final seconds that are sure to leave audiences wanting to see it all over again.
All of that leads back to the tandem of Director James Wan and Writer Leigh Whannell. What they've done in crafting every last square inch of Insidious can't be overlooked as the film's primary factors contributing to its overall success. Of course, it's easy to label the writing and direction in any good movie as key cogs, but that the duo has managed to do so much with all of those basic, daresay even overused elements is a true testament to their grasp of what makes a Horror movie a success. That said, they do rely on shock images and sharp musical jump cues to generate many of the scares, but for once they play in tandem with, rather than completely supersede, the plot. Insidious just fires on all cylinders, the film meshing genre standbys with the various semi-original elements in the script to perfection. Insidious works in every way that Paranormal Activity 2 didn't. Rather than a series of "odd occurrences" that never really go anywhere, Insidious delivers palpable-to-unbrearable tension in most every shot, with the human element playing a critical factor in reinforcing the seriousness of the plot, the scares inherent to it, and the few scattered laughs that really solidify the entire thing. The Wan/Whannell tandem even makes the thing as frighteningly intense as it can be without overstepping the bounds of taste and falling into some macabre sort of schlock, proving the value of a good story and a fine cast. Indeed, the cast of Insidious is leaps and bounds better than most found in the run-of-the-mill Horror picture, with secondary cast members Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, and Lin Shaye turning in some of the most well-balanced and memorable roles in recent Horror memory.
Insidious Blu-ray, Video Quality
Insidious spooks up a rock-solid 1080p transfer. This digitally-shot film lacks the authentic texture and life force of filmed motion pictures, yielding a rather cold and inhospitable world. Of course, that suits the movie rather well, for it's made of chilly interiors and many a darkened attics and other frightening areas. Fortunately, fine detail is quite strong, evident primarily in those scattered scenes and sequences playing in well-lit locales. Clothing and facial textures are quite good, as are general around-the-house odds and ends. Still, the image appears rather flat despite remaining sharp as a tack throughout. Colors pretty much follow along that same path as do the fine details, varying in intensity with the lighting of their surrounding locales. As for those impenetrably dark corners and frames and shots and scenes and sequences, Sony's transfer delivers rock-solid blacks that are the envy of all but the finest transfers. A touch of banding is evident in a few scenes, as is common with digitally-shot films. All in all, it's hard to find fault with this one; anything that doesn't necessarily look "good" may pretty much be attributed to stylistic choices or the inherent flaws of the digital medium. This is another grade-A transfer from Sony.
Insidious Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Insidious features a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that's every bit the match for the strong 1080p video transfer. This one offers nothing short of a deluge of well-conceived and even more strongly executed sound elements, from pitch-perfect music to a smorgasbord of timely and chilling surround effects. The film opens with a nicely creepy presentation. Highs are crisp and smooth and the track flows with ease as it subtly engulfs the listening area over the opening titles. It crescendos into a series of stringy, high-pitched, skin-crawling audible terrors that nicely set the stage for all that's to follow. Sound effects are the film's primary source of chills, and Sony's lossless soundtrack plays each and every one with just the right pitch and balance, whether the slight but critical creaks and pops around the house or the flat-out punishing deep elements that kick the subwoofer into overdrive. Through it all, the surround channels support the action with frightening precision, the complete effect practically plopping the listener in the midst of the mayhem. Rounded into form by faultless dialogue reproduction, Insidious's soundtrack is one of sonic mastery from start to end.
Insidious Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, Insidious comes with only a trio of extras, all of which are good but seem more like what should have been supporting elements in a much larger package.
Insidious Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Insidious is an excellent Horror movie that shouldn't be so good. All signs point towards something far more unoriginal, mundane, and not at all frightening, but Director James Wan and Writer Leigh Whannell have defied expectations and crafted an involved, engaging, and daresay even fun little Chiller that plays around with genre cliché but escapes the deadly trap of failing to build story and characters to go alongside the here effective and bone-chilling jump scares. This is one solid movie from top to bottom, one of the absolute best in its sub-category considering the harmony through which every element effectively coexists. Sony's Blu-ray release of Insidious yields a terrific technical presentation but fails to feature the more substantial supplementary content the film deserves. Nevertheless, it comes strongly recommended.
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Insidious Blu-ray, News and Updates
• First Look at Insidious: Chapter 3 - October 24, 2014
Focus Features has sent us the first official teaser trailer for director Leigh Whannell's Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015), starring Dermot Mulroney, Hayley Kiyoko, and Lin Shaye. The film is set to open in theaters across the nation on May 29, 2015.
• This Week on Blu-ray - July 12-18 - July 12, 2011
The Lincoln Lawyer may not have been the box office success its producers were hoping for, and it may not win any awards for originality, but if there is one thing today's Blu-ray release of the film does do, is prove that Matthew McConaughey can act. He has been ...
• Special Screening: Insidious - June 30, 2011
To celebrate the July 12th release date of Insidious on Blu-ray, Sony Pictures and Fangoria will host a free screening of the film on Monday, July 11th. Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell will be present for a Q&A following the screening; the Q&A ...
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