2.5 out of 5
The extent to which this movie got generally favorable reviews suggests that our collective craving for a thoughtful, frightening movie has gone unsatiated of late. Competently and stylishly executed, Insidious certainly is better than the typical horror abomination of the week such as Darkness Falls, which I had the misfortune of watching on satellite a few nights ago, but it doesn't earn a spot on the top shelf, either. The trailer gave away the movie's best line — "It's not the house that's haunted" — and this plot centering on a troubled child is definitely not staking out original territory. In fact, I couldn't help thinking of Poltergeist, given that both have a child trapped in another realm, a paranormal investigation team that comes in to assist, and a rescue attempt by one of the parents. It doesn't help that we have a villian that looks like a Sith lord lost from the set of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; with Saw director James Wan at the helm, it isn't surprising that subtletly gets lost. The best part of the movie is the fairly brief appearance of the paranormal investigators led by Lin Shaye, who brings a certain gravitas, even if she is no Tangina. A couple of bumbling and bickering assistants provide some comic relief, but, by this point, the movie is trending more silly than unsettling.