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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Wan|
|Written by||Leigh Whannell|
|Music by||Joseph Bishara|
|Box office||$99.5 million|
Insidious is a 2010 American-Canadian supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh Whannell, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey. It is the first installment in the Insidious franchise, and the third in terms of the series' in-story chronology. The story centers on a couple whose son inexplicably enters a comatose state and becomes a vessel for a variety of entities in an astral dimension known as 'The Further' who want to inhabit his body.
Insidious had its world premiere on September 14, 2010, at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and received a wide theatrical release on April 1, 2011, by FilmDistrict. The film is followed by a sequel, Chapter 2 (2013), and two prequels, Chapter 3 (2015) and The Last Key (2018).
Late at night in a quiet home, a young boy sleeps peacefully in his bed. Slowly the camera pans through the house until it encounters a malevolent old woman appearing in a doorway. The old woman stands in the dark, holding a candle that reveals a diabolical look on her face, as the scene cuts to black.
Married couple Josh and Renai Lambert, their sons Dalton and Foster, and infant daughter Cali, have recently moved into a new home. One night, Dalton is exploring the attic and is knocked unconscious when he falls off a ladder. When he wakens shortly thereafter he is frightened by something unseen lurking in the shadows. The next day, Dalton inexplicably will not wake up and falls into a coma.
After three months of treatment without result, Renai and Josh are allowed to take Dalton home. Soon after, the family starts to experience disturbing paranormal events. Renai begins hearing voices over the baby monitor when no one is in Cali's room, Foster says that Dalton sleepwalks at night, Renai sees a frightening figure of a man in Cali's room, and the home's security alarm is repeatedly triggered for no reason. After Renai finds a bloody hand print on Dalton's bed, she questions Josh about the house, but he ignores her. That night, Renai is attacked by the figure from Cali's room, and the Lamberts decide to move elsewhere, believing the house to be haunted.
In the new house however, the supernatural activity continues, with Renai seeing the ghostly figure of a young child one afternoon. Josh's mother Lorraine arrives, and says she had a dream about an ominous figure in Dalton's room. Suddenly, she sees the same dark figure- a monstrous red-faced demon- standing behind Josh. At that moment everyone hears thrashing coming from Dalton's room, but when they race to see what's happened they find it has been ransacked without any evidence of a culprit.
Lorraine calls Elise Rainier, a psychic, and her paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker. Elise senses a presence in the house and upon entering Dalton's room sees the same demonic, red-faced figure Lorraine saw.
Elise explains that Dalton is not in a coma; he was born with the ability to astral travel, and had been unknowingly doing so in his sleep, probably believing he was only dreaming. This time he has traveled too far and has been captured in a purgatory realm called "The Further", a place inhabited by the tortured souls of the dead. Without his mental presence, Dalton's body appears comatose but spirits desire to use it so they can enter the physical world. Josh is skeptical until he realizes that drawings in Dalton's bedroom hinted at his astral projection abilities and the red-faced demon.
Elise performs a seance to communicate with Dalton. During the seance, the demon briefly possesses Dalton's body and attacks the group before being stopped by Elise. Elise explains that she's known Lorraine for decades, and had previously helped Josh when he was eight years old. She informs Josh that he also possesses the ability to astral project, though he had suppressed his memory of the ability years ago. Elise had helped him in order to protect himself from the parasitic spirit of an evil old woman that wanted to possess him, revealing that he was the young boy from earlier in the story. Elise tells Josh that the only way to rescue Dalton is for him to go into The Further and save him.
Elise puts Josh in a trance and he is able to project himself to their previous house. He goes to the attic, but is attacked by the same figure that attacked Renai. After fending him off, Josh enters the Demon's lair, where he finds Dalton chained to the floor. Josh frees him, but they are chased by the demon while the spirits of the Further invade the real world and terrorize Elise, Renai, and the others. After managing to escape, Josh confronts the old woman that haunted him as a child, trying to once and for all overcome his fears. The old woman dissolves into darkness as Josh shouts at her to leave him alone. When Josh and Dalton return to their bodies, they wake up in their new home and the spirits have all disappeared.
The family celebrates their victory, relieved to be finished with their ordeal. Elise starts packing her equipment with Josh, when she senses that something about him isn't right. Without warning she snaps a photo of him, but Josh suddenly becomes enraged and strangles her to death. Renai is horrified when she discovers Elise's dead body and frantically searches for Josh. While doing so she comes across the camera Elise used and is horrified to see the photo she took. In a flashback, Elise noticed Josh's hands became dirty and terribly aged. The photograph she took reveals Josh is in fact the evil woman from his dreams; possessed when he confronted her in the Further.
Josh suddenly appears behind Renai, but as she turns around all she can do is gasp. After the credits, a short scene shows the evil woman blowing out a candle followed by a laugh.
- Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert
- Josh Feldman as Young Josh
- Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert
- Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
- Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert
- Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert
- Leigh Whannell as Steven "Specs"
- Angus Sampson as Tucker
- Andrew Astor as Foster Lambert
- Heather Tocquigny as Nurse Kelly
- Corbett Tuck as Nurse Adele
- Ruben Pla as Dr. Sercarz
- John Henry Binder as Father Martin
- Christopher Marr Besina as Ghost
- Marfren Cubar as Tree
- Joseph Bishara as Lipstick-Face Demon
- J. LaRose as Long Haired Fiend
- Philip Friedman as the Old Woman
- Kelly Devoto and Corbett Tuck as Doll Girls
- Ben Woolf as Dancing Boy
- Lary Crews as the Whistling Ghost Dad
- Jose Prendes as Top Hat Guy
- Caslin Rose as the Ghoul / Contortionist
The movie was somewhat of a reaction of Wan's to the success of the Saw series. Wan directed the first Saw film in 2004, and while he stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he was "very proud" of the movie, he also felt that the movie, specifically, the violence and gore of it, put some people off and made them hesitant to work with him. Wan thus made Insidious in part to prove that he could make a movie without the level of violence found in the Saw series.
Principal photography for Insidious was completed over the course of three weeks in 2010, from late April to mid-May at the historic Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles. In regards to the shorter shooting schedule, actor Patrick Wilson explained, "We had long days and a lot of pages a day, and we didn't get a lot of coverage or rehearsal. But luckily, the benefit of doing a movie that's not on a big budget—and the reason it's usually done like that—is so if the filmmakers feel like, 'OK, we're not going to sacrifice anything on screen,' which I don't think they have, it lets them have complete control. So we were in good hands."
The musical score to Insidious was composed by Joseph Bishara, who also appears in the film as the demon. Performed with a quartet and a piano, a bulk of the score was improvised and structured in the editing process, although some recording sessions began prior to filming. On describing the approach of the film's soundtrack, director James Wan explained, "We wanted a lot of the scare sequences to play really silent. But, what I like to do with the soundtrack is set you on edge with a really loud, sort of like, atonal scratchy violin score, mixing with some really weird piano bangs and take that away and all of a sudden, you're like, 'What just happened there?'"
An exclusively digital soundtrack album was released by Void Recordings on October 11, 2011. Additional songs featured in the film include:
- "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" by Tiny Tim (1968)
- "Nuvole Bianche" by Ludovico Einaudi (2004)
- "Decode" by Paramore (uncredited)
The first promotional clip from Insidious was released on September 14, 2010. The following December, production company IM Global released an image and sales poster for the film. On January 22, 2011, FilmDistrict released the first teaser trailer for the film. Less than a month later, the film's theatrical trailer was made available online via daily entertainment news site Blastr.
Insidious had its world premiere in the Midnight Madness program at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2010. Less than 12 hours after its screening, the U.S distribution rights to the film and the worldwide distribution rights to any sequels were picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. On December 29, 2010, it was announced that the film would be released theatrically on April 1, 2011 by the then-relatively new film company FilmDistrict. The film was also screened at South by Southwest in mid-March 2011.
Insidious was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 12, 2011 through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray bonus content includes three featurettes: Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar, On Set With Insidious, and Insidious Entities. On the day prior to the film's home media release, Sony Pictures and Fangoria hosted a free screening of the film at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles followed by an interactive Q&A with director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell.
The film opened with $13.3 million, making it #3 at the US box office behind Hop and Source Code. On a budget of $1.5 million, it has since grossed a total of US$54 million in the US and $43 million internationally, for a total of $97 million worldwide. Insidious was one of the most profitable films of 2011 (with Cars 2 having a worldwide profit of $362 million).
Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 66% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 175 reviews; the average score is 5.97/10. The critical consensus is: "Aside from a shaky final act, Insidious is a very scary and very fun haunted house thrill ride." Roger Ebert gave the film 2 1/2 stars out of 4 and said, "It depends on characters, atmosphere, sneaky happenings and mounting dread. This one is not terrifically good, but moviegoers will get what they're expecting."
A number of negative reviews reported that the second half of the film did not match the development of the first. Mike Hale of The New York Times wrote that "the strongest analogue for the second half of Insidious is one that the filmmakers probably weren’t trying for: it feels like a less poetic version of an M. Night Shyamalan fairy tale." Similarly, James Berardinelli commented, "[i]f there's a complaint to be made about Insidious, it's that the film's second half is unable to live up to the impossibly high standards set by the first half." Ethan Gilsdorf of The Boston Globe wrote that "[t]he film begins with promise" but "[t]he crazy train of Insidious runs fully off the rails when the filmmakers go logical and some of the strange gets explained away as a double shot of demonic possession and astral projection."
Positive reviews have focused on the filmmakers' ability to build suspense. John Anderson of The Wall Street Journal explains "[w]hat makes a movie scary isn't what jumps out of the closet. It's what might jump out of the closet. The blood, the gore and the noise of so many fright films miss the horrifying point: Movie watchers are far more convinced, instinctively, that what we don't know will most assuredly hurt us... Insidious establishes that these folks can make a film that operates on an entirely different level, sans gore, or obvious gimmicks. And make flesh crawl." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell admire all sorts of fright, from the blatant to the insidiously subtle. This one lies at an effective halfway point between those extremes." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone commented: "Here's a better-than-average spook house movie, mostly because Insidious decides it can daunt an audience without spraying it with blood." Christy Lemire of the Associated Press stated: "Insidious is the kind of movie you could watch with your eyes closed and still feel engrossed by it."
Awards and nominations
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|2011||Won||Fright Meter Awards||Best Horror Film||James Wan|
|2011||Nominated||Fright Meter Awards||Best Director||James Wan|
|2011||Nominated||Fright Meter Awards||Best Actress||Rose Byrne|
|2011||Won||Fright Meter Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Lin Shaye|
|2011||Nominated||Fright Meter Awards||Best Screenplay||Leigh Whannell|
|2011||Nominated||Saturn Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Lin Shaye|
|2011||Nominated||2011 Scream Awards||Best Horror Film||−|
|2011||Nominated||2011 Scream Awards||Best Horror Actor||Patrick Wilson|
|2011||Nominated||2011 Scream Awards||Best Horror Actress||Rose Byrne|
Sequel and prequels
A third installment, Insidious: Chapter 3, was announced in September 2013, with Leigh Whannell serving as director and writer. The film was released on June 5, 2015, to a high box office gross and a mixed critical response.
A fourth installment was announced in May 2016. Adam Robitel was announced as director and Whannell returned to write the film. Insidious: The Last Key was released on January 5, 2018, and received mixed reviews.
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