James Wan (writer/director on "Saw") presents an old-fashioned haunted house story that almost works. The combination of an underdeveloped script by Leigh Whannell, and a deal-breaking subplot involving ghost-busters, restrict the film's potential to induce nightmares. Married couple Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) move into a craftsman home with their three kids. Still in the process of unpacking, things go missing and things go bump in the night. Not the least of whom is the couple's oldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) who bumps his head and slips into a coma, or something quite like it. Weird voices, fast-moving shadows, and fright-wig ghost faces appear at increasing regularity. The filmmakers tear a page from Dario Argento's "Suspiria" horror-textbook to plunge the father into a hellish dimension under the supervision of a couple of ghost-busters and a medium (played by Lin Shaye). "Insidious" has a few good shock surprises accompanied by jolting music, but it doesn't have what it takes to sustain any real terror after the final credits roll.
Rated PG-13. 102 mins. (C) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)
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