Insidious (film)

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Insidious poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Wan
Written byLeigh Whannell
Produced by
Edited by
  • James Wan
  • Kirk Morri
Music byJoseph Bishara
Distributed byFilmDistrict[1]
Release dates
  • September 14, 2010 (2010-09-14) (TIFF)
  • April 1, 2011 (2011-04-01) (United States)[4]
Running time
101 minutes
Budget$1.5 million[6]
Box office$100.1 million[6]

Insidious is a 2010 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 franchise, and the third in terms of the series' in-story chronology. The story centers on a married couple whose boy inexplicably enters a comatose state and becomes a vessel for a variety of demonic entities in an astral plane.

Insidious had its world premiere on September 14, 2010, at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and received a wide theatrical release on April 1, 2011, by FilmDistrict. The film is followed by a sequel, Chapter 2 (2013), and two prequels, Chapter 3 (2015) and The Last Key (2018).


Married couple Josh and Renai Lambert, their boys Dalton and Foster, and infant daughter Cali, have recently moved in to a new home. One evening, Dalton sneaks away to explore the attic, when he encounters a frightening entity and falls from a step stool. The next day, he inexplicably slips into a coma.

After three months of treatment without result, Renai and Josh take Dalton home. The family starts to experience frightening paranormal events. Renai begins hearing voices over the baby monitor when no one is in Cali's room, Foster says that Dalton sleepwalks at night. They hear things at the door, so they lock it and set the alarm. Renai sees a disturbing figure in Cali's bedroom, and the security alarm goes off. Josh has visions and works late. The nurse visits to check on Dalton. Renai finds a bloody hand print on Dalton's bed. Josh returns home and has more visions. After Renai is attacked by the entity, the Lamberts decide to move, believing the house to be cursed.

In the new house, however, the supernatural activity continues. Renai sees a dancing young child dressed in a period attire, then follows the child's laugh to a moving rocking horse. In Dalton's room, the child torments Renai. Josh's mother Lorraine arrives and explains her frightening dream: visions of the home and demon. She is then terrified when she sees a red-faced demon behind Josh. She calls psychic Elise Rainier and her paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker.[7] One of the investigators sees a vision of a woman while investigating. In Dalton's bedroom, Elise sees the same red-faced demonic creature that Lorraine saw. She describes it to the other investigators who do not witness it.

Elise explains that Dalton is not in a coma; he was born with the ability to astral travel and had been unknowingly doing so while asleep, probably believing he was dreaming. This time he has travelled too far and has been captured in a purgatory dimension called "The Further", a place inhabited by the tortured spirits of the deceased. Without his psychological presence, his body is comatose, but spirits desire to use it so they can re-enter the physical world, some because they want to live again, some because they want to harm others. Josh makes Elise leave.

Josh sees the drawings of Dalton in his room, and they confirm the truth: Dalton has been dreaming and astral projecting. Josh cries.

Elise returns and performs a séance to communicate with Dalton. He warns them of the creature with fire on his face. Elise screams and seems to faint. The creature possesses Dalton's body and attacks the group before being stopped by Elise. She explains that she's known Lorraine for decades, and had previously helped Josh when he was eight. It is revealed that Josh also possesses the ability to astral project, though he had suppressed his memory of it years ago. These were the visions they had seen throughout the film. Elise had helped him protect himself from the parasitic spirit of an evil old woman that wanted to possess him. We see images of the woman moving slowly to him. The only way to rescue Dalton is for Josh to go into The Further and save him.

Elise puts Josh in a trance and he is able to project to their previous home. He fights off one spirit that has been tormenting them and enters the creature's lair through a red door where he finds Dalton chained. He frees him, but they are chased and attacked by the creature while the spirits of the Further invade the real world and terrorize Renai, Elise, and the others. After escaping, Josh confronts the elderly woman that tormented him as a child, trying once and for all to overcome his fear. The elderly woman laughs and appears to retreat from him. When Josh and Dalton return to their physical form, the spirits have all disappeared from their house.

The family celebrates their victory, but Elise senses that something is amiss about Josh. When she snaps a photo of him, Josh becomes angry and suffocates her. Renai is horrified when she discovers Elise's corpse and even more so when she sees the photograph Elise took. The photo reveals that Josh is now the evil woman from his childhood; she inhabited him when he confronted her in the Further.


  • Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert
    • Josh Feldman as young Josh
  • Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert
  • Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
  • Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert
  • Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert
  • Brynn Bowie and Madison Bowie as Kali Lambert
  • Leigh Whannell as Steven "Specs"
  • Angus Sampson as Tucker
  • Andrew Astor as Foster Lambert
  • Heather Tocquigny as Nurse Kelly
  • Corbett Tuck as Nurse Adele
  • Ruben Pla as Dr. Sercarz
  • John Henry Binder as Father Martin
  • Christopher Marr Besina as Ghost
  • Marfren Cubar as Tree
  • Joseph Bishara as Lipstick-Face Demon
  • J. LaRose as Long Haired Fiend
  • Philip Friedman as Parker "Marilyn" Crane / The Bride in Black: Friedman's character was credited on-screen as "the Old Woman".
  • Kelly Devoto and Corbett Tuck as Doll Girls
  • Ben Woolf as Dancing Boy
  • Lary Crews as the Whistling Ghost Dad
  • Jose Prendes as Top Hat Guy
  • Caslin Rose as the Ghoul / Contortionist


The movie was somewhat of a reaction of Wan's to the success of the Saw series.[8] Wan directed the first Saw film in 2004, and while he stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he was "very proud" of the movie, he also felt that the movie, specifically, the violence and gore of it, put some people off and made them hesitant to work with him.[8] Wan thus made Insidious in part to prove that he could make a movie without the level of violence found in the Saw series.[8]


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.[9] 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."[10]


The musical score to Insidious was composed by Joseph Bishara, who also appears in the film as the demon.[9] 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.[11] 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?'"[12]

An exclusively digital soundtrack album was released by Void Recordings on October 11, 2011.[13] Additional songs featured in the film include:


Theatrical run[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 U.S distribution rights to the film and the worldwide distribution rights to any sequels were picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.[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]


Box office[edit]

The film opened with $13.3 million, making it #3 at the US box office behind Hop and Source Code. On a budget of $1.5 million, it has since grossed a total of US$54 million in the US and $46.1 million internationally, for a total of $100.1 million worldwide.[21] Insidious was one of the most profitable films of 2011 (with Cars 2 having a worldwide profit of $362 million).[22]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 66% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 177 reviews; the average score is 6.00/10. The critical consensus is: "Aside from a shaky final act, Insidious is a very scary and very fun haunted house thrill ride."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[24] Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "It depends on characters, atmosphere, sneaky happenings and mounting dread. This one is not terrifically good, but moviegoers will get what they're expecting."[25]

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."[26] 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."[27] 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."[28]

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."[29] 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."[30] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone commented: "Here's a better-than-average spook house movie, mostly because Insidious decides it can daunt an audience without spraying it with blood."[31] 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."[32]

Awards and nominations[edit]

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 prequels[edit]


A sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released on Friday, September 13, 2013.[33]


A third installment, Insidious: Chapter 3, with Leigh Whannell serving as director and writer, was released on June 5, 2015, to a high box office gross and a mixed critical response.[34]

A fourth installment, with Adam Robitel as director and Whannell as writer of the film,[35] Insidious: The Last Key was released on January 5, 2018, and received mixed reviews.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Insidious". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Insidious (2011)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  3. ^ "INSIDIOUS". Stage 6 Films.
  4. ^ Karen Benardello (December 30, 2010). "Haunted House Film Insidious To Be Released on April Fool's Day". Crave Online. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b "LUMIERE : Film: Insidious". European Audiovisual Observatory. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  6. ^ a b "Insidious (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-18.
  7. ^ "Insidious: Lin Shaye Talks the Last Key and Elise's Journey". Collider. 4 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Collis, Clark. "Director James Wan talks 'The Conjuring' and 'Insidious 2' and confirms we'll be seeing more of [spoiler] in 'Fast & Furious 7'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  9. ^ a b Turek, Ryan (May 18, 2010). "Exclusive Set Report: James Wan Talks Insidious". Shock Till You Drop. Crave Online. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  10. ^ Gingold, Michael (April 1, 2011). ""INSIDIOUS": Raising Fear". Fangoria. Retrieved June 6, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Comerford, Jason (2011). "Insidious by Joseph Bishara". Howlin' Wolf Records. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ " Insidious: Joseph Bishara". Amazon. Retrieved June 5, 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, Mike Jr. (September 15, 2010). "Sony Pictures Worldwide Buys 'Insidious'". Deadline Hollywood. 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]". Amazon. 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. ^ Box Office Mojo. "Insidious". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  22. ^ "2011 Yearly Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo".
  23. ^ "Insidious (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  24. ^ "Insidious". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  25. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 31, 2011). "Insidious". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011 – via
  26. ^ Hale, Mike (2011-03-31). "Movie Review – Insidious". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  27. ^ James Berardinelli (2011-04-02). "Insidious". Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  28. ^ Ethan Gilsdorf (2011-04-01). "Insidious". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  29. ^ John Anderson (2011-04-01). "'Insidious': Scary Eyeful of the Unknown". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  30. ^ Michael Phillips (2011-03-31). "Insidious Movie Review". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  31. ^ Peter Travers (2011-03-31). "Insidious". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  32. ^ Lemire, Christy (2011-03-30). "Review: 'Insidious' mixes shocks and laughs". Associated Press. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  33. ^ J.B. (November 30, 2011). "Insidious 2 is in the works according to domain registrations by Sony Pictures". Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  34. ^ Chitwood, Adam (September 16, 2013). "INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER THREE Moving Forward; Leigh Whannell Returning to Write the Script". Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  35. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (16 May 2016). "'Insidious 4' Announces Writer, Director, and Release Date". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 15 July 2018.

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