Insidious (film)

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Insidious poster.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed by James Wan
Produced by Jason Blum
Steven Schneider
Oren Peli
Written by Leigh Whannell
Starring Patrick Wilson
Rose Byrne
Barbara Hershey
Music by Joseph Bishara
Cinematography John R. Leonetti
David M. Brewer
Edited by James Wan
Kirk Morri
Distributed by FilmDistrict
Release dates
  • September 14, 2010 (2010-09-14) (TIFF)
  • April 1, 2011 (2011-04-01) (United States)[1]
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States[2]
Language English
Budget $1.5 million[3]
Box office $97 million[4]

Insidious is a 2011 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh Whannell, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. It is the first installment in the Insidious film series. The story centers on a couple whose son inexplicably enters a comatose state and becomes a vessel for ghosts in an astral dimension who want to inhabit his body, in order to once again live. The film was released in theaters on April 1, 2011, and was FilmDistrict's first theatrical release. A sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released on September 13, 2013, with Wan returning as director and Whannell returning as screenwriter. Because of the film's success it became the basis for a maze for 2013's annual Halloween Horror Nights. A follow up/prequel in the series, Insidious: Chapter 3 is set to be released on June 5, 2015.


The Lambert family–parents Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne), their sons Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor), and infant daughter Cali–move into a new home. Shortly afterward, Dalton is drawn to the attic when he hears creaking noises and sees the door open by itself. He falls from a ladder while investigating and sees a figure in the shadows. Hearing his terrified screams, Renai and Josh rush to his aid and declare the attic "off limits" to the children. The next day, Dalton falls into an inexplicable coma.

After three months of treatment without result, Renai and Josh are allowed to take Dalton home. Instantly, increasingly supernatural activity occurs; Renai begins hearing voices over the baby monitor when no one is in Cali's room, Foster says that Dalton sleepwalks at night, Renai sees the frightening figure of a man in Cali's room, who vanishes when Josh comes and the burglar alarm is repeatedly triggered without a cause. After Renai finds a bloody handprint on Dalton's bed, she questions Josh about the house, but he ignores her. That night, the figure from Cali's room appears outside the bedroom window and attacks Renai. The Lamberts abandon the house and move elsewhere.

In the second house, Renai sees the figure of a dancing boy who leads her to Dalton's room. Josh's mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), has a dream in which a figure in Dalton's room replies "Dalton" when asked what it wanted; at the same time, she notices a monstrous red-faced figure behind Josh. Moments later, Dalton's room is ransacked and Dalton himself is found laying on the floor.

Lorraine calls paranormal investigators Elise Reiner (Lin Shaye), Specs (Leigh Whannell), and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Upon entering, Elise senses a presence in the house and once entering Dalton's room, she sees something on the ceiling, to which Specs draws a demonic, red-faced figure with dark hollow eyes; the same figure Lorraine saw.

Elise explains that Dalton is not in a coma; he was born with the ability to travel mentally to the astral plane. He has traveled too far and become lost in a realm called "The Further", a place inhabited by the tortured souls of the dead. Without his mental presence, Dalton's body appears comatose and spirits can use it to enter the physical world. Josh is skeptical until he realizes that all of Dalton's drawings are of the demonic entity drawn by Specs.

Elise performs a seance to communicate with Dalton, but the demon appears and foully threatens the group. It uses Dalton's body to attack them but is stopped by Elise. She reveals that her acquaintance with Lorraine is decades old, because she previously performed the same service on Josh when he was eight years old (he was terrorized by the parasitic spirit of an old woman). Josh also possesses astral talent; Dalton inherited it from him. Elise tells Josh that the only way to rescue Dalton is to go into the Further himself.

Elise puts Josh in a trance and he is able to project himself to their previous house. He goes to the attic and finds a red door, but is attacked by the mysterious figure that attacked Renai. After defeating him, Josh enters the Demon's lair, where Josh finds Dalton chained to the floor. Josh frees him, but they are caught by the demon; Josh tries to fight it, but they are forced to flee with the demon in pursuit. Returning through the red door, Josh confronts the old woman that haunted him as a child. The old woman dissolves into darkness after Josh shouts at it to leave him alone. When Josh and Dalton return to their bodies they wake up in their new home and the spirits disappear.

As they celebrate the end of their ordeal, Elise is packing up when she senses something and takes a photo of Josh. Josh flies into a violent rage, as he doesn't like to have his picture taken, strangles Elise and flees. Renai picks up the camera, to and sees that the image of Josh resembles a sinister old woman, implying that Josh has been possessed. Josh appears over her shoulder, and she turns around and gasps.


Insidious entities[edit]

  • Joseph Bishara as the Lipstick-Face Demon
  • J. LaRose as the Long Haired Fiend
  • Philip Friedman as the Old Woman
  • Kelly Devoto and Corbett Tuck as Doll girls
  • Lary Crews as the Whistling Ghost Dad
  • Jose Prendes as Top Hat Guy
  • Caslin Rose as the Ghoul / Contortionist
  • Ben Woolf as Dancing Boy



Principal photography for Insidious was completed over the course of three weeks in 2010, from late April to mid-May at the historic Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles.[5] In regards to the shorter shooting schedule, actor Patrick Wilson explained, "We had long days and a lot of pages a day, and we didn’t get a lot of coverage or rehearsal. But luckily, the benefit of doing a movie that’s not on a big budget—and the reason it’s usually done like that—is so if the filmmakers feel like, ‘OK, we’re not going to sacrifice anything on screen,’ which I don’t think they have, it lets them have complete control. So we were in good hands."[6]


The musical score to Insidious was composed by Joseph Bishara, who also appears in the film as the demon.[5] Performed with a quartet and a piano, a bulk of the score was improvised and structured in the editing process, although some recording sessions began prior to filming.[7] On describing the approach of the film's soundtrack, director James Wan explained, "We wanted a lot of the scare sequences to play really silent. But, what I like to do with the soundtrack is set you on edge with a really loud, sort of like, atonal scratchy violin score, mixing with some really weird piano bangs and take that away and all of a sudden, you’re like, 'What just happened there?'"[8]

An exclusively digital soundtrack album was released by Void Recordings on October 11, 2011.[9] Additional songs featured in the film include:



The first promotional clip from Insidious was released on September 14, 2010.[10] The following December, production company IM Global released an image and sales poster for the film.[11] On January 22, 2011, FilmDistrict released the first teaser trailer for the film.[12] Less than a month later, the film's theatrical trailer was made available online via daily entertainment news site Blastr.[13]

Theatrical release[edit]

Insidious had its world premiere in the Midnight Madness program at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2010. Less than 12 hours after its screening, the film was picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions for theatrical distribution.[14][15] On December 29, 2010, it was announced that the film would be released theatrically on April 1, 2011 by the then-relatively new film company FilmDistrict.[16] The film was also screened at South by Southwest in mid-March 2011.[17]

Home media[edit]

Insidious was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 12, 2011 through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.[18] The Blu-ray bonus content includes three featurettes: Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar, On Set With Insidious, and Insidious Entities.[19] On the day prior to the film's home media release, Sony Pictures and Fangoria hosted a free screening of the film at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles followed by an interactive Q&A with director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell.[20]


Critical response[edit]

Insidious received generally positive reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 66% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 165 reviews, with an average score of 6.0. The critical consensus is: "Aside from a shaky final act, Insidious is a very scary and very fun haunted house thrill ride."[21] Roger Ebert gave the film 2 1/2 stars out of 4 saying, "It depends on characters, atmosphere, sneaky happenings and mounting dread. This one is not terrifically good, but moviegoers will get what they're expecting."[22]

A number of negative reviews reported that the second half of the film did not match the development of the first. Mike Hale of The New York Times wrote that "the strongest analogue for the second half of Insidious is one that the filmmakers probably weren’t trying for: it feels like a less poetic version of an M. Night Shyamalan fairy tale."[23] Similarly, James Berardinelli commented, "[i]f there's a complaint to be made about Insidious, it's that the film's second half is unable to live up to the impossibly high standards set by the first half."[24] Ethan Gilsdorf of The Boston Globe wrote that "[t]he film begins with promise" but "[t]he crazy train of Insidious runs fully off the rails when the filmmakers go logical and some of the strange gets explained away as a double shot of demonic possession and astral projection."[25]

Positive reviews have focused on the filmmakers' ability to build suspense. John Anderson of The Wall Street Journal explains "[w]hat makes a movie scary isn't what jumps out of the closet. It's what might jump out of the closet. The blood, the gore and the noise of so many fright films miss the horrifying point: Movie watchers are far more convinced, instinctively, that what we don't know will most assuredly hurt us... Insidious establishes that these folks can make a film that operates on an entirely different level, sans gore, or obvious gimmicks. And make flesh crawl."[26] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell admire all sorts of fright, from the blatant to the insidiously subtle. This one lies at an effective halfway point between those extremes."[27] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone commented: "Here's a better-than-average spook house movie, mostly because Insidious decides it can haunt an audience without spraying it with blood."[28] Christy Lemire of the Associated Press stated: "Insidious is the kind of movie you could watch with your eyes closed and still feel engrossed by it. It's a haunted-house thriller filled with all the usual creaking doors, groaning floors and things that go bump in the night, but it'll also grab you with some disturbing, raspy whispers on a baby monitor, a few melancholy piano plunkings and the panicky bleating of an alarm as a front door is mysteriously flung open in the middle of the night."[29]

Box office[edit]

The film opened with $13,271,464, making it #3 at the domestic box office behind Hop and Source Code. It has since grossed a total of US$54,009,150 domestically and US$43,000,000 internationally, for a total of $97,009,150 worldwide.[30] Insidious was the most profitable film of 2011.[31]


Year Result Award Category Recipient
2011 Won Fright Meter Awards Best Horror Film James Wan
Leigh Whannell
2011 Nominated Fright Meter Awards Best Director James Wan
2011 Nominated Fright Meter Awards Best Actress Rose Byrne
2011 Won Fright Meter Awards Best Supporting Actress Lin Shaye
2011 Nominated Fright Meter Awards Best Screenplay Leigh Whannell
2011 Nominated Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Lin Shaye
2011 Nominated 2011 Scream Awards Best Horror Film
2011 Nominated 2011 Scream Awards Best Horror Actor Patrick Wilson
2011 Nominated 2011 Scream Awards Best Horror Actress Rose Byrne

Sequel and Follow Up/Prequel[edit]


Main article: Insidious: Chapter 2

A sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released on Friday, September 13, 2013. In November 2011, it was reported that Sony Pictures had registered online domain names for a second film.[32]

Follow Up/Prequel

Main article: Insidious: Chapter 3

A follow up/prequel, Insidious: Chapter 3, is scheduled for release on June 5, 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karen Benardello (December 30, 2010). "Haunted House Film Insidious To Be Released on April Fool's Day". Crave Online. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Hoovert, John (March 28, 2011). "SXSW: Interview with Insidious Director James Wan". Lost In Reviews. 
  3. ^ Kaufman, Amy (March 31, 2011). "Movie Projector: "Hop" will jump over rivals this weekend". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Insidious (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  5. ^ a b Turek, Ryan (May 18, 2010). "Exclusive Set Report: James Wan Talks Insidious". Crave Online. Shock Till You Drop. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ Gingold, Michael (April 1, 2011). ""INSIDIOUS": Raising Fear". Fangoria. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ Comerford, Jason (2011). "Insidious by Joseph Bishara". Howlin' Wolf Records. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ Messer, Ron (April 4, 2011). "James Wan & Leigh Whannell INSIDIOUS Interview; The SAW Creators Also Discuss Their Untitled Sci-Fi Project, NIGHTFALL, and Recent Horror Remakes". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ " Insidious: Joseph Bishara". Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ Tassi, Paul (September 14, 2010). "First clip of Insidious from Saw's James Wan". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ "New ‘Insidious’ Image, Sales Poster". Bloody Disgusting. December 13, 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ Knowles, Harry (January 22, 2011). "James Wan wants you to check out something... INSIDIOUS!!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ Edelman, Scott (February 16, 2011). "EXCLUSIVE: Terrifyingly creepy trailer for James Wan's Insidious". Blastr. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  14. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (September 15, 2010). "Toronto International Film Festival 2010: Insidious, Super and Rabbit Hole". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  15. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (September 15, 2010). "Sony Pictures Worldwide Buys ‘Insidious’". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  16. ^ Fischer, Russ (December 29, 2010). "James Wan’s ‘Insidious’ To Release on April 1, 2011". /Film. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  17. ^ Keegan, Rebecca (February 10, 2013). "SXSW: ‘Insidious’ leads sci-fi and horror horde in Texas [updated]". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  18. ^ " Insidious [Blu-ray]". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  19. ^ Katz, Josh (May 25, 2011). "Insidious Blu-ray". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  20. ^ Katz, Josh (June 30, 2011). "Special Screening: Insidious". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  21. ^ Rotten Tomatoes by Flixster (2011). "Insidious (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes by Flixster. Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  22. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 31, 2011). "Insidious". Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  23. ^ Hale, Mike (2011-03-31). "Movie Review – Insidious". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  24. ^ James Berardinelli (2011-04-02). "Insidious". Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  25. ^ Ethan Gilsdorf (2011-04-01). "Insidious". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  26. ^ John Anderson (2011-04-01). "'Insidious': Scary Eyeful of the Unknown". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  27. ^ Michael Phillips (2011-03-31). "Insidious Movie Review". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  28. ^ Peter Travers (2011-03-31). "Insidious". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  29. ^ Lemire, Christy (2011-03-30). "Review: 'Insidious' mixes shocks and laughs". Yahoo News. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  30. ^ Box Office Mojo. "Insidious". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  31. ^ Staff (February 3, 2012). "James Wan in Talks to Direct "Insidious" Sequel". WorstPreviews. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  32. ^ J.B. (November 30, 2011). "Insidious 2 is in the works according to domain registrations by Sony Pictures". Fusible. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 

External links[edit]