The Saw team of director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell reunite for this half-good (half-great, actually) supernatural tale of demonic possession and astral projection in which Mom and Dad (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) slowly come to realize that their young son’s comatose state is being caused by his consciousness wandering too far into “The Further,” a spirit world where he’s being held prisoner by a red-faced demon who likes to sharpen his nails while listening to Tiny Tim’s 1968 recording of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” Luckily, the kid’s ability seems to be genetically inherited, and Dad soon embarks on an astral rescue mission, during which he must face a monster from his own past. The first half of Insidious is so intense and scary that it makes the increasingly ridiculous second half all the more disappointing; luckily, Wan’s playful theatrical style is on full-throttle throughout, keeping things at least visually lively and unique as the script goes completely off the rails. Wilson and Byrne, both good actors, are never quite convincing as a married couple (or parents, at that), though Wan’s seemingly bottomless bag of tricks manages to sometimes make up for the lack of strong family dynamics, an essential element to any haunted house tale; unfortunately, the film’s final twist is a complete cop-out and frustratingly unnecessary.
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