I would write out the title of this film but it’ll never look as good as it does in the opening credits:

Thursday March 17th 2011


The premise of the first Saw movie was so powerfully awesome that it’s easy to misremember the film itself as living up to its potential. And for the properly great first half hour (while we’re still in ‘the bathroom’) it kind of does. But after that, its descent into gimmicky bollocks is quick and unrelenting, and for this I blame first-time director James Wan, who largely misses the point of his own monumentally awesome story.

With his fourth film Insidious, sorry – INSIDIOUS, he doesn’t even get the saving grace of a decent script (even though it’s written by longtime collaborator Leigh Whannell who I love with a passion). Instead, his graceless directorial style is perfectly matched by a cliché-ridden horror tale rife with shrieky hysteria and demonic baby monitors.

Seriously, what is it with baby monitors? I can’t understand why any parent would ever leave their kid alone with one when they’re so blatantly MADE OF EVIL. I guess the theory is that the most disturbing demon of all is one that can corrupt symbols of innocence (sleeping toddlers and childhood photographs also get a bad rap in Insidious) but where does it end? I’m fully expecting James Wan’s next film to open with a newborn baby emerging from the womb in a blaze of hellfire and devil vomit.

[Pause for you to consider that mental picture.]

Perpetually-perplexed Rose Byrne plays the distraught mother of comatose infant Dalton, who may or may not be possessed by demons (take a wild guess), while Patrick Wilson gets the choice role of the sceptic father who resolutely denies a supernatural presence even after witnessing undeniable proof to the contrary.

Amazingly repetitive at 102 minutes, Wan’s evidently digitally-shot film looks like shit and also is. Whether his Saw goodwill (he continues to serve as executive producer on the series) will survive yet another disastrous follow-up remains to be seen, but with his gaudy, erratic directing sensibility undercutting even the few moments of Insidious that offer genuine scares, there’s no question that he’s doing the horror genre more harm than good.