Summary: Evil spirits are trying to enter the body of a child who is in what seems like a coma. You can guess the rest...
Review: Every time I sit through an appallingly bad film I say to myself, "How did this even get the green light?" Especially when there are so many great indie movies that audiences are not aware of due to only a slight whisper of promotion. The insipid Insidious is one of those films that makes you say, “Who in Tinsletown thought this was worthy of the big screen?” It's not even worthy of a made-for-television dud on the Syfy channel. Nonetheless, Insidious hits theaters today.
At least once every six months a demonic possession film is released. It's always the same plot: A brunette child (why don't blonds or red heads ever get possessed?) is being tortured by ghouls from the depths of hell. The mother is frantic, the father is in denial, and a random person comes along to perform an exorcism—usually a priest, psychic or "ethnic healer." Don’t you love when a Native American or a Black Southern has healing powers? Fortunately, Insidious didn’t make that mistake.
That said, Insidious ups the level of foolishness with dollar-store special effects, bad-even-for-horror dialogue and cheap costumes—especially that of the main demon, which resembled an under-$19.99 selection from New York's City Halloween Adventure Shop. Hideous.
Plot-wise, I hope it doesn't get any worse than Insidious. The film claims it's a tribute to The Exorcist and Poltergeist, but it's more like plagiarism. There isn't a fresh scene, word or scream in one millisecond of the 98 minutes. The most the James Wan (the director behind the original Saw) film has is ear-piercing sound effects with quick cuts to scary faces. Of course you'll jump, but you'll also jump if someone runs behind you and screams in your eardrum—this is the same effect as Insidious.
The film stars Rose Byrne, who is known for her role in Damages and will be in the highly anticipated X-Men: First Class. Every actor is allowed a few duds. It also features Patrick Wilson, who has had more than his fair share of box office and critical mishaps: Samuel L. Jackson's Lakeview Terrace, Jennifer Aniston's The Switch and one of the worst films of 2010, The A-Team. Insidious certainly does not help his resume. There is also a small role for Barbara Hershey of Black Swan. I would have to assume she signed up for this gig before Black Swan was in production.
Insidious does nothing for anyone involved with the film. The first must-not-see film of the year.
Insidious is in theaters today.
(Photo: Alliance Films)