Insidious is an ode to the old school haunted house flick with enough style and twists to keep things interesting, but not nearly enough to make it stick with you as the hideous demons stick to its main characters.
After opening with a jolt and a flaming red title card that reads INSIDIOUS, the credits meander through several spaces within a house, revealing a variety of ghosts and frightening images, introducing the demons we're about to become acquainted with before any of the living have a chance. The "living" are Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne), who move into a massive old home with their 3 children only to discover that something is haunting them, particularly after their eldest son falls into an unexplained coma. Voices threaten the family over the baby monitor, hideous forms appear on the other side of the window, and bloody claw prints stain the sheets of the sleeping children. The rest of the film is full of twists that are better kept secret.
Like many horror tales that have preceded it, when Insidious finally comes to a (slow) climax, those twists are explained in a rushed sentence by a newly introduced character. It's a huge, intense let-down, even if the details of the story seem decidedly unique. When Director Wan (of the Saw series) fully exposes the haunters to the hauntees the game's up, and any and all fears of the darkness you had been cultivating disappear entirely and the film just can't recover.
But like those many horror tales that have preceded it (particularly films like The Haunting) Insidious is strangely comforting. It follows the usual horror format in every edit, turn, and look in a frightened character's eye. It's a solid film that looks good, flows nicely, and stars two excellent actors that at least make an effort, even if Wilson sometimes looks more bored than befuddled. It's fun to watch because you know what's coming (the same reason my parents' watch House every Monday), and though the music warns you that a scare is on the way, you'll still jump in your seat. Even when the insidious ending's sprung on you and your predictions come true, there's still a bit of joy to be had in the nostalgia of the discovery.