As the malevolent story begins, Renais (Rose Byrne of “Damages”) and Josh (Patrick Wilson of “Little Children”) are moving into a new home with their three children. It’s a creaky old house and when the older son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is exploring the attic, he falls off a broken ladder. He seems all right but then, inexplicably, lapses into what seems like a coma. But three months go by and he has still not awakened. In the meantime, increasingly hysterical Renais hears muffled voices on the baby monitor. Shadowy ghosts dart through the hallway and the imprint of a bloody claw appears on Dalton’s sheet. Frantic Renais insists on moving to a new house which also seems to be haunted. By then, Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey of “Black Swan”) has come to visit and she concurs that what Renais senses may be real, summoning an ‘old friend,’ a clairvoyant (Lin Shayne), accompanied by her geeky assistants (Leigh Whannel, Angus Simpson), is determined to discover what evil exists within the walls, even if it means venturing into a dark realm she dubs “The Further.”
Confession: I’m an easy target for scare fare. I’m inclined to suspend disbelief immediately and fall prey to whatever terrors lurk in the great unknown. Which is why I was so disappointed with James Wan’s reliance on familiar devices like startling sounds, and ominously opening doors, along with lame, incomprehensibly banal mumbo-jumbo about occult astral-projection and demonic possession. And when snatches of Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” played on the soundtrack, I laughed.
Born in Malaysia, Wan grew up in Australia, honing his skills with short movies and music videos before tackling “Saw,” which catapulted him into the international scene. His 2007 thrillers “Death Sentence” and “Dead Silence” failed to impress, so he rejoined “Saw” writer/actor Leigh Whannell in this formulaic, clichéd venture into the spiritual world that evokes memories of the far-better “Poltergeist” (1982).
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Insidious” is a terrible 2, a deja-‘boo’ that’s a total waste of money and time.