Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Insidious Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Exceptionally scary flick is too intense for younger teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 53 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 274 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There's a fair bit of conflict -- characters argue a great deal and are unable to agree on much. The wife wants a supernatural solution, and the more practical husband won't allow it. The problem is solved, but not entirely solved.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though these people are all nice enough, they're not much in the way of role models. The wife spends the film being scared, and the husband is vain and argues and hides from his responsibilities for much of the movie. Though he eventually shows bravery, it may be too late.


The movie isn't violent in a gory way, though viewers do see some bloody handprints and some intense fighting; there are loud, scary noises on the soundtrack; and a young boy is in jeopardy throughout. But while it isn't graphic, the movie is very frightening, with lots of creepy, half-glimpsed figures and a scary alternate universe in which everything is dark and anything could be hiding anywhere.


Language isn't constant but includes one "f--k," plus "hell," "bitch," "oh my God," "goddamn," and "whore."


One main character uses an Apple laptop.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Insidious is one of the most terrifying scary horror movies in some time, and it's not recommended for younger teens (or anyone without a high tolerance for "jump" scenes). There's some blood, as well as some arguing and yelling, and a young boy is in jeopardy throughout the movie (he's separated from his parents, which may add to the anxiety for some kids -- even teens). But most of the horror is in the form of the stuff that nightmares are made of: darkness, shadows, and noises. It's very scary. Language is fairly light but does include one use of "f--k"; there's no sex, drugs, or drinking content of note.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 17-year-old Written byOld Timer May 1, 2011
What a horror movie should be. It reminds us that we are less afraid of whats in the closet than what MIGHT be in the closet.
Parent of a 9, 11, and 14-year-old Written byCSM Screen Name... April 16, 2011

Perfect for tweens, teens(young and old), and adults!

I loved it. One of my 6th grade students saw it over break with her friends, and she told me how great it was. That inspired me to go see it and i am so glad... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old October 9, 2014


Real creepy horror
Teen, 14 years old Written byBrandon4News April 3, 2011

Intense and scary horror flick; teens and adults ONLY.

Violence- 8/10
Sexual Content- 1/10
Language- 5.5/10
Drinking/Drugs/Smoking- 0.5/10
Overall Quality- 8.5/10

What's the story?

In INSIDIOUS, the Lambert family settles into their new house, only to find that weird things are happening. Books and boxes move around, and there are weird noises coming from the attic. Before long, son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a mysterious coma, and mom Renai (Rose Byrne) starts seeing things. Dad Josh (Patrick Wilson) agrees to move them out of the seemingly haunted house, but the strange events continue. When Josh's mother (Barbara Hershey) hires a medium (Lin Shaye) to help, the medium explains that it was never the house that was haunted: It was Dalton! Now someone must make a dangerous, terrifying trip into The Further to try to rescue him ... if it's not too late.

Is it any good?

This is director James Wan and writer/actor Leigh Whannell's third project together (after their hit Saw and its dull follow-up Dead Silence) and it's their best and most frightening film yet. Essentially, Insidious is a retread of Poltergeist, about a haunted house that more or less "kidnaps" a child, but it has its own unique spin.

Surprisingly, after the ultra-gory Saw movies, Wan and Whannell choose here to go the old-fashioned route and rely on half-glimpsed images, darkness, shadows, and noises for their scares -- which are really more effective, anyway. And the characters are flawed in a deliberate and interesting way, resulting in some good performances. Hershey and Shaye especially get in some interesting moments.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Insidiousviolence and terror. How did it affect you?

  • How scary is the movie? What makes it different from, and scarier than, other horror movies? Is it scarier given the fact that a young boy is in trouble?

  • Are these characters likable? Why do you think they act the way they do? Are they role models?

Movie details

  • In theaters: April 1, 2011
  • On DVD or streaming: July 12, 2011
  • Cast: Barbara Hershey, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne
  • Director: James Wan
  • Studio: FilmDistrict
  • Genre: Horror
  • Run time: 102 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: thematic material, violence, terror and frightening images, and brief strong language
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

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