Review: It is no big surprise that James Wan, who directed the first and original Saw movie, would eventually return to his horror roots, given his love for the genre. In his latest outing Insidious, he borrows elements from classic horror film Poltergeist of which he is a big fan to try to give you the chills, but to mixed results.

Unlike its title, there is nothing really insidious with Insidious. It relies too much on screechy sound effects to put the shivers in you, and if he doesn`t assault your eyes as much as he did in Saw, then your ears will be put to the test here.

The first half of the film has a sort of realism to it, almost in the vein of the mockumentary genre, and the shaky camerawork reminds you of Paranormal Activity, and if Wan had more confidence in the script, Insidious could have been less exploitative and instead dial up the psychological thrill.

Insidious is refreshing in some ways. Married couple Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) and their children have moved into a new home, getting it at a steal, but soon mysterious things start happening in the house. After a few harrowing incidents, they decide to move out to Josh`s mum`s place, but they find it`s also haunted. It turns out that the haunting has to do with the family, not the house, but lest the spoiler police arrest us, we shall not give away too much. Yet it is this small twist that gives Insidious a bit of freshness.

Unfortunately once things are spelt out for us, and we find out the reason for the strange happenings and malevolent forces present, things get too literal and in-your-face. The taut and tense atmosphere gives way to gimmicky horror visuals. Not that it is a bad thing to be confronted with silly doll-like looking demons and pale-faced, stony-eyed ghosts, but it just feels so been-there-seen-that, very much like the other zillion horror movies out there that bombard you with freakish looking apparitions.

As much as it tries, the film does not really break any new ground in the horror genre, and there are awfully inane moments, but if you are looking for a quick scare or two, the film delivers.

            Raymond Tan