Insidious is a haunted-house movie that has some of the most shivery and indelible images I've seen in any horror film in decades.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
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.
Mike Hale - New York Times
There's not much that's insidious, or subtle, here. A prolonged scene involving an unnerving high-pitched burglar alarm does get under our skin. But it's far more annoying than frightening.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
It's too much "Saw" and not enough "Paranormal."
Michael O'Sullivan - Washington Post
The final shocker succeeds in shocking, and does so sans gore. But first we have to wade through a red door and a red hallway, pleas to "follow my voice,'' and an infinity of fog about as scary as dry ice vapor spilling onto a dance floor.
Ethan Gilsdorf - Boston Globe
It doesn't build a better haunted house but, when on its game, reminds us of the genre's pleasures.
Nick Pinkerton - Village Voice
"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.
John Anderson - Wall Street Journal
builds legitimate haunted-house dread ... [but] at a very specific point ... possession turns jokey and hokey.
Kathleen Murphy - MSN Movies
Wan and Whannell have, in effect, ripped pages from the "Poltergeist" playbook and stripped the formulas down to old-style gothic scares.
Bruce Diones - New Yorker
Not terrifically good, but moviegoers will get what they're expecting.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
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.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Aesthetically, Insidious operates at the level of a decent high school video project.
Ben Sachs - Chicago Reader
If your idea of a fun night out is to be manipulated by freaky sound effects, jumpy edits, and point-of-view shots of ceiling fans whooshing menacingly, Insidious is the film for you.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
The film is weighed down by too many forehead-palming lapses and an overall sense of "been there."
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Insidious isn't scary. It's laughable. And kind of sad.
Tom Long - Detroit News
No blood, no gore, no hacked-off arms and legs, but plenty of creepy set pieces, quick cuts and blasts of music that will have you both squirming in your seat and jumping out of it.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
A possession thriller less terrifying than fun.
Rob Nelson - Variety
Whatever flaws it may have, Insidious scared the hell out of me.
Eric D. Snider - Film.com
Nothing slows down a movie down like people sitting around a living room discussing the meaning of "astral projection."
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
It turns out to be a moderately effective suburban-family creep show, majorly in debt to "Poltergeist" and "The Exorcist" and capturing at least a little of their spirit.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
If 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.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
A surprising number of these gotcha moments have the desired effect, and the picture's first hour strings them along through a familiar tale.
John DeFore - Hollywood Reporter
Insidious is the kind of movie you could watch with your eyes closed and still feel engrossed by it.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
Here's a better-than-average spook house movie, mostly because Insidious decides it can haunt an audience without spraying it with blood.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
"Insidious" ultimately works because of Mr. Whannell's script, which manages to be inventive and unpredictable despite its paint-by-numbers formalism.
Martin Tsai - Critic's Notebook
A tale of intriguing situations that rise to the surface carefully and cautiously before they explode in a flashy series of stimulating resolutions.
David Keyes - Cinemaphile.org
Finds a pitch-perfect balance between homage and originality.
This is a movie that wants to be several movies at once. It turns out to be none of them.
Will Leitch - Deadspin
Insidious is effectively creepy and is able to provide some great horror elements without the gore.
Amy Curtis - We Got This Covered
After a suspenseful and shock-filled first hour, it loses control and veers off into routine supernatural silliness. I hate it when that happens.
Steve Newton - Georgia Straight
The best horror movies get the audience talking back to the screen. "Insidious" manages that, and how...
About as subtle as a fart at a seance
Matt Looker - TheShiznit.co.uk
There's nothing wrong with its standard set up which has an unsuspecting family haunted by spirits. However, when it comes time for the film to follow through on the plotline, we find out the filmmakers weren't quite up to the task.
Jeff Beck - Examiner.com
Reminds of those mazes during Halloween, where figures jump out of the shadows and attempt to scare you--and one look at them beyond a second reveals them to be obnoxious people in even more obnoxious makeup.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
Insidious clearly borrows from several sources, but where it fails as a narrative, it succeeds as a shock-a-minute fright fest with plenty of atmosphere and dread.
R. L. Shaffer - IGN DVD
The ending struggles to explain too much and take itself a bit too literally, but mostly Insidious is an engaging treat.
Eric Melin - Scene-Stealers.com
It may be an essentially shallow ride, but it will make you scared of the dark again. It is a strangely comforting to be reminded of what that feels like.
Andrew Simpson - Fan The Fire
There is much to recommend in this reunion of the creative forces behind the dazzling first Saw movie.
Ben Rawson-Jones - Digital Spy
For all its creaky-old-dark-house cliches, Insidious is a fun ghost-train ride, full of truly terrifying moments. But once it's over, it's forgotten.
David Michael Brown - Empire Magazine Australasia
Director James Wan here proves himself very adept at building dramatic tension and making you anxious about the things going on in your peripheral vision.
Jim Schembri - The Age (Australia)
Is this reminding you of anything? Like, say 77.2% of any horror movies ever made?
Grae Drake - Movies.com
Insidious is certainly part of a great tradition of scary films, but it's a little too bland and visually unappealing to be memorable.
Thomas Caldwell - Cinema Autopsy
If the film was attempting to be more than just a horror movie, it doesn't work on that level either.
David Stratton - At the Movies (Australia)
Insidious is very much a 21st century modern horror movie, which is to say it's more interested in tricks and scares than 'horror'.
Peter Galvin - sbs.com.au
Insidious is happy enough with elevating your breathing pattern every now and then, as opposed to choking you outright with one shock after another.
Leigh Paatsch - Herald Sun (Australia)
While the third act descends into silliness, for the most part this is a superbly crafted and genuinely scary flick that borrows brilliantly from horror classics.
Matthew Pejkovic - FILMINK (Australia)
It's intelligent, it's well-paced, it's packed with both unsettling scenes and pop-up shocks that never feel cheap.
Anthony Morris - The Vine
For the majority of its running time Insidious is a scary good time at the movies.
Glenn Dunks - Trespass
They're having such a joke on us because there is a ridiculous element to it and one of the things that I think they fall into the trap of showing too much. Horror and being scared is much more effective without actually seeing.
Margaret Pomeranz - At the Movies (Australia)
This is a good ol' fashioned haunting, one with a tangible atmosphere, strong performances and plenty of skin-crawling scares.
Anders Wotzke - Moviedex
Wan uses the lack of lighting, shaky camera and creepy music to keep us watching intently.
Matthew Toomey - ABC Radio Brisbane
Insidious is quite scary and a lot of fun to go along with, as scare scenes are mixed up and played with in a way where I felt shortchanged with Sam Raimi's return-to-roots, Drag Me To Hell.
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com
Conjures up a nightmarish quality that I found difficult to shake off.
Henry Fitzherbert - Daily Express
This is not the rollicking rollercoaster frightfest Paranormal Activity 1 and 2 were, nor is it a playful genre throwback like Drag Me To Hell, or even a touching family film like Poltergeist (which Insidious apes most).
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
A haunting horror story at its core, but there are some decent flourishes with new ideas that make it worthwhile for fans of the genre
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Insidious makes it fun to be scared. The scares are creepy rather than terrifying but they build up nicely and with some tongue-in-cheek
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
[S]cary, funny, thrilling, and deliciously meta all at the same...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
The jump to more outre ghost-train-style horror is perhaps a tad blunt, but it remains scary enough to make it easy to buy into the supernatural ride it's intent on taking you on.
Alistair Harkness - Scotsman
It's a case of tribute working to the top of its game. It's horror film trickery that immerses us, once again.
Matthew Sorrento - Film Threat
A supernatural horror flick by and for horror buffs.
A good thrill ride for younger audiences not familiar with the likes of Poltergiest or Wan's favourite 1991 TV movie The Haunted.
Graham Young - Birmingham Mail
There are enough jolts, jumps and bursts of gallows humour along the way to recommend it to fans of scary movies.
Allan Hunter - Daily Express
For the most part it's standard stuff.
Anthony Quinn - Independent
Insidious wouldn't scare a nervous dormouse.
David Edwards - Daily Mirror [UK]
Once the lights have come up you realise that behind the beautifully choreographed frights, there was very little going on.
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
Good for a handful of jumps and guilty giggles before it quickly reaches for the slipshod, hokey contrivances you don't expect until number 2 or 3 in the franchise.
Plays out in such a high, trilling key of baroque anxiety it's both jumpy and ludicrous.
Tim Robey - Daily Telegraph
Scared? You bet. Entertained? Totally ... baby monitors are definitely the scariest and most evil things ever invented.
Lisa Giles-Keddie - Real.com
The film reminded me of the first Poltergeist while simultaneously delivering some new language to the haunted house conversation...
Mark Bell - Film Threat
The film is the work of director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell, who founded the Saw franchise. But Insidious, with its haunted house predictability, is pale stuff by comparison.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
Derivative as it is, Insidious is competent enough, there are a few genuine scares and the final shock twist is an effective cinematic sucker-punch.
Adam Smith - Radio Times
The tone is reminiscent of Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, but this film is actually more spine-tingling.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Wan and Whannell have done wonders with a tiny budget and horror fans will enjoy being scared, but it's a shame that Insidious doesn't finish nearly as well as it starts.
Roz Laws - Birmingham Post
Not so much insidious as inconsequential.
Tim Evans - Sky Movies
Derivative, uneven and frequently tedious, Insidious wastes a talented cast and is nowhere near as scary as it thinks it, though it does deliver a few cheap shocks, if you like that sort of thing.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
The film never approaches being scary, but its colossal silliness makes it both intriguing and unpredictable.
Leo Robson - Financial Times
Like the ghouls and ghosties confronted by its characters, Insidious overstays its welcome.
Catherine Bray - Film4
Not so much insidious as inexcusable.
Nigel Floyd - Time Out
When this unpretentious genre piece says boo, you'll jump all right - and it is canny enough in its management of the uncanny to have you laughing too.
Anton Bitel - Little White Lies
A film that simply will not relent in its scares and surprises.
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Saw creators Whannell and Wan return with a horror movie creepy enough to borrow under your skin.
Kim Newman - Empire Magazine
A high-concept horror that oozes atmosphere and unease without relying on computer-generated effects or buckets of gore.
Kevin A. Ranson - MovieCrypt.com
There's always some chump happy to claim that any given horror film was so scary they were "whimpering in sheer terror". Difference with Insidious is, the damn thing's so scary I actually WAS whimpering in sheer terror.
Robbie Collin - News of the World
Promising and, in places, highly effective, this haunted-house variant more than fulfils its Friday Night fright flick duties but could have pushed through to a whole new plane.
Matt Glasby - Total Film
Just when Insidious is starting to look slightly less scary than a winter gas bill, Wan and Whannell manage to reapply some intensity to the story.
Siobhan Synnot - Scotsman
Like a campfire story told well, it understands that the basic ability to catch you off guard is more effective than a lot of unnecessary flourishes.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
Yes, the 'Saw' guys can scare the daylights out of you even with a PG-13 rating. Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell made the original 'Saw' movie.
Linda Cook - KWQC-TV (Iowa)
... efficient, imaginative and effective ...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Insidious is old-fashioned in the best sense.
Stephen Schaefer - Boston Herald
A well-orchestrated mix of foreboding atmosphere, discordant music, and visual freak-outs
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
Possession and astral travel combine for some neck-popping good fun.
Ron Wilkinson - Monsters and Critics
Jennie Kermode - Eye for Film
The delicious kind of creepy that makes for a great night at the movies if you're into that sort of thing.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Director Wan and writer Whannell keeps things quiet at first, the creepy kind of quiet where the ticking of a clock creates an unbearably tantalizing tension.
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
A cute old-fashioned frightfest.
Charles Koplinski - Illinois Times
Invariably puts some quirky personal spin on the things it borrows, in turn creating one of the most enjoyably eccentric horror movies in quite some time.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
The demons in Insidious, or malefic spirits, or whatever they are, could be whipped up in a couple of hours in time for a Halloween party. In a way, that's kind of cool.
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com
Keep that in mind, horror directors and screenwriters: nothing kills terror better than a pair of indie-rock-Mormon-missionary-looking ghostbusters.
Dave White - Movies.com
It's not scary, it's just surprising and surprise is not the same thing as horror.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky - Ebert Presents At The Movies
Scary enough to be fun but not scary enough to gross you out - and there is a difference!
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
For scares alone, "Insidious" deserves an "A." It may not be very original, but for a fun trip through a haunted house, it works exceedingly well.
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Relying on familiar devices like startling sounds, ominously opening doors and incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo about astral-projection and demonic possession, it's a deja-'boo,' a waste of time and money.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
While it's probably time to call for a moratorium on both haunted-house thrillers and creepy-child sagas, Insidious milks a bit of innovativeness from both these sub-genres before self-destructing.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
'Insidious' benefits from being buoyed by its first hour or so. Overall a better watch than teentalk advance publicity would lead one to expect.
Donald J. Levit - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Essentially, it's a retread of Poltergeist, about a haunted house that more or less "kidnaps" a child, but it has its own unique spin. It's an old tale told in a new way.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Common Sense Media
[Insidious] has been made so skillfully that even those not normally disposed to such things may well find it an engrossing night at the movies.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
Don't even get me started on the sublime asininity of the cloven-hoofed, fire-faced demon thingee that, for no reason I can fathom, resembles, almost exactly, Darth Maul. Seriously. Don't.
Marc Savlov - Austin Chronicle
The tension is nicely handled in the first half, but once it's time to start paying off with proper horror, Wan falls back on the same imagery he always uses.
Norman Wilner - NOW Toronto
It's a horror show all right. Stilted line readings creep hand-in-demonic claw with pacing that could induce rigor. If only Mrs. Gas Mask Psychic could have warned us in advance ...
Kimberly Gadette - Indie Movies Online
Insidious feels like a traditional, old fashioned horror movie in all of the right ways.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
For one loopy moment, when the trilly sound of 'Tiptoe Through the Tulips' mysteriously wafts through the spook-plagued California home, it seems as if the story's unfortunate family is being haunted by the ghosts of Tiny Tim and his ukulele.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
The movie is called "Insidious," but "Insipidious" would be more appropriate.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
James Wan knows his horror tricks -- even though "Insidious" has just a PG-13 rating, there were people jumping out of seats all through the auditorium.
Matt Soergel - Florida Times-Union
A poor man's Poltergeist.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
James Wan's Insidious is both an apology for the numbing 'Saw' sequels and proof old-school horror still rocks.
Christian Toto - What Would Toto Watch?
Wan knows that what we're paying for is to be scared deep in our bones, and that images glimpsed and hinted at are orders of magnitude more unsettling than buckets of blood and viscera.
Ian Buckwalter - DCist
To director James Wan's credit, Insidious is really creepy. Not good. But creepy.
Gary Wolcott - Tri-City Herald
Insidious is actually not a bad horror movie (that's probably because it's not much more than Poltergeist with fewer killer trees).
Pete Vonder Haar - Houston Press
The film delivers haunted house-type scares throughout but I just wish the second half was as good as the first. Wait for the flick to come out on DVD.
Kevin McCarthy - WJFK-FM (CBS Radio)
Insidious is a haunted house story. In some ways it's smarter than most.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
There's little new here. And what is new isn't well done.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
At its foundation, it's a movie I like. It's what's built on that foundation that's troubling.
Brian Tallerico - HollywoodChicago.com
Insidious is a crashing bore, and will likely only frighten people who have never seen any horror movies.
Daniel M. Kimmel - New England Movies Weekly
Saw creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell take a crack at an old-fashioned ghost story, and the results are pretty creepy: ominous shadows, strange noises and glimpses of freaky things flitting through the dark.
Maitland McDonagh - Film Journal International
Until the misguided last act, 'Insidious' manages to generate some genuine chills and a few chuckles...Unlike the best horror films, though, it probably won't stick with you long after the lights come up.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
Horror movies haven't been this fun in a very long time
Bill Gibron - Filmcritic.com
There are enough quality scares and inspired jolts to keep the most passionate horror buffs screaming happily.
Steve Ramos - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
If you've never seen a thriller involving eerie images of mysterious kids, creepy old people, creaky doors or demons in the window, now you can find them all in one place.
Matt Pais - RedEye
All calculation aside, scary is still scary, and Insidious makes up in old-fashioned tension what it sometimes lacks in originality.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
Wan and Whannell have come a long way since Saw, but they still have a little further to go.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
The film begins well, bridges the middle with a comically creepy set piece, then goes to hell in a hand basket with a poorly conceived climax that serves no scares.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
If the audience I watched this with is any indication, laughter will be drowning out the creaks, atonal chords, and snatches of Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe through the Tulips" that are meant to scare you on the soundtrack.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
It gets a little baroque in the final reel, but "Insidious" stays disciplined - the horror derives from the way the demon tests the strength of maternal/paternal bonds.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
When a pair of goofy (and unamusing) ghostbusters and their medium boss (Lin Shaye) show up, Insidious takes a tragic turn toward the stupid.
Jeff Meyers - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
more a humdinger of a missed opportunity than a total disaster.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
The most the James Wan film has is ear-piercing sound effects with quick cuts to scary faces. Of course you'll jump, but you'll also jump if someone runs behind you and screams in your eardrum -- this is the same effect as 'Insidious.'
Clay Cane - BET.com
Wan feels torn between telling a scary story and making a "scary" movie, and the viewer is ultimately stranded between the two impulses.
Michelle Orange - Movieline
It's the haunted house that cliche built.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
Save for "Two Girls and One Cup," I'm able to sit through anything. Very little bothers me the way "Insidious" bothered me. Disturbed me. Ran its ice-cold finger down the length of my spine, chilling me to the core.
Sean O'Connell - Reelrave
Tiny Tim's legacy might not have been to terrify the living hell out of people, but that is what it will be once this movie gets done with him.
Mixing POLTERGEIST with Disney's Haunted Mansion ride, a staggeringly disappointing and silly second half mars INSIDIOUS' strong, scary first half.
Devin Faraci - CHUD
From the opening credits, in which the title appears in blood-red letters to the accompaniment of blaring, dissonant music, the movie tries to get under your skin and inside your mind. Sometimes it does.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
The film is stylish and quietly unsettling even in its derivativeness, and it delivers the sort of slow-building chills that ruffle the hair at the back of your neck, at least until the frights get a little too literal, in the movie's third act.
Connie Ogle - Miami Herald
Strong, extraordinarily disciplined horror flick. No cheap scares here.
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Wan actually makes an appealing ruckus with Insidious, a derivative but effective scare machine pulled off with a certain gusto, making the viewing experience a treat for those who enjoy their shock jump cinema.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
The actors are commended for keeping straight faces throughout, with Wilson and Shaye going beyond the call of authenticity. It isn't easy to wear that gas mask or feign a twitching trance without appearing foolish, but they don't.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
The film's low-budget atmospherics and cliched floor-creakings are a poor substitute for Wan's nauseating impact of yore.
Joshua Rothkopf - Time Out
Its plot, ripped off from The Amityville Horror, shows so little psychological or occult logic that it exposes its own sheer dumbness as just a series of spookings.
Armond White - New York Press
If Polgergeist is the Disneyland Mansion of spookhouse movies, Insidious is a small-town Haunted Hayride, filled with low-fi jumps and punctuated with giggles.
Brian Juergens - CampBlood.org
Wan strikes just the right notes of ever-building suspense as he establishes the trouble that befalls the Lamberts, but when Elise and her team enter the picture, Insidious goes off the rails.
Pam Grady - Boxoffice Magazine
By the time the absurdly deflating finale rolls around, Wan has managed to not only botch his own film, but sully the one cool element of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace as well.
Nick Schager - Lessons of Darkness
Yet another been-there-done-that horror pic.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
The kind of bold, high quality horror film genre fans deserve but rarely receive.
Geoff Berkshire - Metromix.com
The film, a collaboration of the makers of Saw and Paranormal Activity, is uneven: first half, which evokes Poltergeist, is really scary and spooky, but second is nonsensical and too reliant on technology.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
The thing is scary as hell when it's all creaks and thumps and doors swinging open. Then come the explanations, the special effects, and the inevitable feeling of been-there-been-bombarded-by-that.
Genuinely scary in some parts, downright silly in others, and undeniably entertaining as a whole, Insidious is both a tribute and solid entry in the ever expanding demonic possession sub-genre.
Matthew Pejkovic - Matt's Movie Reviews
Less film than funhouse ride, but it's a frequently scary funhouse ride that presents itself as such.
Ed Gonzalez - Slant Magazine
"Insidious" has a few good shock surprises accompanied by jolting music, but it doesn't have what it takes to sustain any real terror.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Its descent into gimmicky bollocks is quick and unrelenting.
Charlie Lyne - Ultra Culture
A creepy and atmospheric supernatural horror tale that plays a lot like a modern day Poltergeist with a decidedly retro aesthetic.
Jason Zingale - Bullz-Eye.com
Looking up the word Insidious in the dictionary is a more fulfilling experience than seeing the movie Insidious.
Jordan Hoffman - UGO
A solid horror movie.
Matt Singer - IFC.com
Undoubtedly James Wan's best movie since 2004's Saw...
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
This is no trifle aimed at undiscerning teenagers on a slow weekend. It is ruthlessly calculated to scare the bejeezus out of you.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
A really mature, perceptive view of the supernatural. Leigh Whannell's script incorporates spiritual powers and philosophy... a new vision of the world beyond our own.
Fred Topel - Screen Junkies
A love letter to [director] James Wan's favorite movie, Poltergeist, this spooky story follows a young couple and their children into a new home... and into the pit of darkness when an evil presence makes its insidious intentions known.
Staci Layne Wilson - Horror.com