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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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 ...
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?
- 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
For kids who love scares
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.