In the entertainment industry, you're only as good as your last effort, be it album, game or movie. So, after the double-edged sword creation of Saw - great beginning, unnecessary franchise - its creators return with another stab at scaring audiences out of their seats.
And to cut to the chase, at certain points in its relatively short running time, they succeed. However, the team of director Wan and writer Whannell have painted themselves into a corner by, depending on your own view, either homaging or desecrating a known classic. So, if you're going to invite comparisons with Poltergeist then you had better make sure that you've upped your game in order to add to its near-perfect mix of scares created by both effects and suspense. They, unfortunately, don't.
A drawn-out beginning tries to help you connect with the family that will eventually be put through the wringer in order for you to care about them, but it's time not dedicated to characterisation. The result leaves them two dimensional and uncared for which, when the sh*t hits the fan, creates no emotional investment from the audience on whether they survive or not. This, linked with unmemorable dialogue and throw-away children lessens any possible feelings of anxiety or danger.
Having said that, there are a few good jumps to be had - all of them being simple "appears in shot out of nowhere" scares rather than the questionable "effects-created" ones. Those though, are few and far between.
Its biggest crime however is showing "the other side." Hooper and Spielberg knew to leave it to the imaginations of the audience to fill in the blanks in Poltergeist... if only the same could be said of Insidious. It just looks like Darth Maul on a good day visiting a set from Saw via a dream sequence from Nightmare On Elm Street - and trust me, it's not as interesting or great as it sounds!
UK release date: 29.04.11