Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet - in her childhood home in New Mexico, built on the grounds of a penitentiary.
Insidious arrived in cinemas just as the last few dregs of K-horror influenced films were beginning to lose their bite. Eight years later, we're now into the fourth film and the franchise's mythology is now that dense that it's taken side characters from the first two films and pushed them into the spotlight with their own prequels and backstories. So it goes that we follow Dr. Elise Rainier, a parapsychologist who's teamed up with two other ghost hunters - Specks, played by franchise creator Leigh Whannell, and Tucker, played by Fargo season two castmember Angus Sampson - and their wacky adventures.
The basic premise sees Elise receiving a mysterious phonecall from a mysterious man under mysterious circumstances about her mysterious childhood home where she mysteriously met a ghost when she was a mysterious child. Mysterious, isn't it? No, it isn't. As soon as the plot gets on the road, it's so blatantly obvious what's going on that the twists and arcs may as well be written in bright-neon and announced on loudspeakers before they actually occur on screen. Sure, Chekov's gun is athing but the fact that there isn't the tiniest bit of subtlety or subterfuge in the story means that you can't really care all that much about what happens to the characters.
Going right up and down the cast list, the acting is universally poor. Lin Shaye's performance calls to mind telenovella-style acting, whilst Band Of Brothers alum Kirk Acevedo plays the role of the mysterious person who's called them to the house with about as much grace and complexity as a hammer over the head. Bruce Davison, who seems to be getting by on low-rent straight-to-VOD films these days, hams it up in a few scenes as the elderly brother of Lin Shaye's character - who, incidentally, is unveiled like it's some all-encompassing crux of the film. Meanwhile, his two on-screen daughters, Grey's Anatomy Tessa Ferrer and Cougar Town's Spencer Locke, are given all the depth and substance of a puddle of rainwater.
As mentioned, the direction by Adam Robitel is flat, unoriginal and uninspired and is exactly what you'd expect from a cheap horror franchise in its fourth installment. Likewise, the screenplay from Leigh Whannell is so resolutely obvious and the dialogue so achingly clunky and hackneyed that you're honestly wondering if he's actually just trolling people for sticking with the film this far. There's no sense of atmosphere and the film uses pretty much every horror trope out there to try make it happen, including creepy children's voices, weird demons who prey on women, airhorn sound design and the old camera pan to something moving in the background and then appearing in the foreground.
Everything about the film just screams lazy, bored and uninterested filmmaking and the performances are so poor that you'll find yourself walking out of the cinema wondering why you spent money on it.
Here's a tip. Don't waste your money.