Insidious (2011), Director: James Wan, 15

Insidious is in safe hands with the new masters of the horror genre at the helm - director of Saw James Wan and the production team behind the Paranormal Activity franchise. Andddddd, safe = boring. Haven't we seen it all before? Its shocks are a little too close to Paranormal Activity and it's that same old haunted house genre. HOWEVER, Insidious is smart and provides some good, old-fashioned jumps. You won't forget the steampunk mask and demons visiting with a promise to 'rip innards out'. Gulp.
Good-looking couple Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick Wilson), and their three children, move into a new home. It's big, it's spooky and it's all very House By The Cemetery (Fulci, kids, Fulci). There are THINGS in the house, and son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) sees something eerie in the attic which makes him fall off a ladder and hit his head. The next morning, Dalton is in - what seems to be - a coma. Renai and Josh are then plagued by haunting visions, and they move house. The visions DON'T STOP. It's not the house!
What happens next is very Poltergeist-esque, with an invitation to family friend and paranormal investigator Elise (Lin Shaye) to come and find out what's happening. And find out what's a happening she does, albeit with some light comic relief from sidekicks Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). The scene where she attempts to contact 'The Further' is absolutely terrifying. Real talk.
Thingggsssss link back to Josh's childhood, and he has to make an important journey to help his son which - again - creeps into the realms of Poltergeist and A Nightmare On Elm Street. It's a bit American Horror Story too, with family massacres and strange apparitions wandering as lost souls.
Insidious works because of the lead characters - they're believable, likeable and you want them to get through their ordeal. Lin Shaye is fantastic in her role as Elise; her face says a thousand words as you discover the true horror of what is facing the family. And even though the (spoiler alert!) demon is a bit silly, and could well link back to events in Paranormal Activity, the lost souls in this film are CREEPARAMA. Doll Girl #1 and Doll Girl #2 will especially give you the willies.
It'll be interesting to see what direction Insidious 2 takes when it's out later this month. Certainly, the ending of this film sets you up for what it COULD be about. When gore and viscera are so common in contemporary horror, there's a certain charm about the old-fashioned nature and storytelling of Insidious. It's a date night flick. It's one to hide behind your popcorn to. You'll jump. You'll laugh. And you'll have a good time. There's absolutely nothing wrong in that. This formula is a WINNER.
Watch out for a familiar horror face too on a chalkboard. Eeeeek!
4/5 creepy things running around your house