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Insidious is a 2010 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh Whannell, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey. It is the first installment in the Insidious franchise, and the third in terms of the series in-story chronology. The story centers on a couple whose son inexplicably enters a comatose state and becomes a vessel for a variety of malevolent entities in an astral plane.

Insidious had its world premiere on September 14, 2010, at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and received a wide theatrical release on April 1, 2011, by FilmDistrict. The film is followed by a sequel, Chapter 2 (2013), and two prequels, Chapter 3 (2015) and The Last Key (2018).


Married couple Josh and Renai Lambert, their sons Dalton and Foster, and infant daughter Cali, have recently moved in to a new home. One evening, Dalton sneaks away to explore the attic, when he encounters a frightening entity and falls from a step stool. The next day, he inexplicably slips into a coma.

After three months of treatment without result, Renai and Josh take Dalton home. The family starts to experience disturbing paranormal events. Renai begins hearing voices over the baby monitor when no one is in Cali s room, Foster says that Dalton walks around at night, they hear things at the door so locks and sets the alarm and Renai sees a frightening figure in Cali s room, the security alarm goes off. Josh has visions and works late. The nurse re-visits to check on Dalton. Renai finds a bloody hand print on Dalton s bed. Josh returns home, and has more visions. After Renai is attacked by the figure, the Lamberts decide to move, believing the house to be haunted.

In the new house, however, the supernatural activity continues. Renai sees a dancing young boy dressed in period clothing, then followed the child s laugh to a rocking rocking horse. In Dalton s room the boy torments Renai. Josh s mother Lorraine arrives and explains her scary dream, visions of the house and demon, she is then terrified when she sees a red-faced demon behind Josh. She calls Elise Rainier, a psychic, and her paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker. One of the investigators sees a vision of a woman while looking for supernatural things. In Dalton s room, Elise sees the same red-faced demonic figure that Lorraine saw, she describes it to the other investigators, who do not see it.

Elise explains that Dalton is not in a coma; he was born with the ability to astral travel, and had been unknowingly doing so in his sleep, probably believing he was dreaming. This time he has travelled too far and has been captured in a purgatory realm called The Further , a place inhabited by the tortured souls of the dead. Without his mental presence, his body is comatose but spirits desire to use it so they can re-enter the physical world, some because the want to live again and some because they want to cause pain and to hurt others. Josh makes Elise leave.

Josh sees the drawings of Dalton in his room and they explain the truth behind that he has been dreaming and astral traveling, Josh cries.

Elise returns and performs a seance to communicate with Dalton, he warns them of the man with fire on his face. Elise screams and seems to faint. The demon possesses Dalton s body and attacks the group before being stopped by Elise. She explains that she s known Lorraine for decades, and had previously helped Josh when he was eight years old. It is revealed that Josh also possesses the ability to astral project, though he had suppressed his memory of it years ago. These were the visions they had seen throughout the movie. Elise had helped him protect himself from the parasitic spirit of an evil old woman that wanted to possess him, they show images of the woman moving slowly to him. The only way to rescue Dalton is for Josh to go into The Further and save him.

Elise puts Josh in a trance and he is able to project to their previous house. He fights off one spirit that has been tormenting them and enters the Demon s lair through a red door, he finds Dalton chained. He frees him, but they are chased and attacked by the demon while the spirits of the Further invade the real world and terrorize Renai, Elise and the others. After escaping, Josh confronts the old woman that haunted him as a child, trying once and for all to overcome his fears. The old woman laughs and appears to retreat from him. When Josh and Dalton return to their bodies, the spirits have all disappeared from their home.

The family celebrates their victory but Elise senses that something is amiss about Josh. When she snaps a photo of him, Josh becomes enraged and strangles her to death. Renai is horrified when she discovers Elise s dead body and even more so when she sees the photo Elise took. The photo reveals that Josh is now the evil woman from his childhood; she possessed him when he confronted her in the Further.


  • Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert Josh Feldman as young Josh
  • Josh Feldman as young Josh
  • Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert
  • Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
  • Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert
  • Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert
  • Brynn Bowie and Madison Bowie as Kali Lambert
  • Leigh Whannell as Steven Specs
  • Angus Sampson as Tucker
  • Andrew Astor as Foster Lambert
  • Heather Tocquigny as Nurse Kelly
  • Corbett Tuck as Nurse Adele
  • Ruben Pla as Dr. Sercarz
  • John Henry Binder as Father Martin
  • Christopher Marr Besina as Ghost
  • Marfren Cubar as Tree
  • Joseph Bishara as Lipstick-Face Demon
  • J. LaRose as Long Haired Fiend
  • Philip Friedman as Parker Marilyn Crane / The Bride in Black: Friedman s character was credited on-screen as the Old Woman .
  • Kelly Devoto and Corbett Tuck as Doll Girls
  • Ben Woolf as Dancing Boy
  • Lary Crews as the Whistling Ghost Dad
  • Jose Prendes as Top Hat Guy
  • Caslin Rose as the Ghoul / Contortionist


The movie was somewhat of a reaction of Wan s to the success of the Saw series. Wan directed the first Saw film in 2004, and while he stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he was very proud of the movie, he also felt that the movie, specifically, the violence and gore of it, put some people off and made them hesitant to work with him. Wan thus made Insidious in part to prove that he could make a movie without the level of violence found in the Saw series.


Principal photography for Insidious was completed over the course of three weeks in 2010, from late April to mid-May at the historic Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles. In regards to the shorter shooting schedule, actor Patrick Wilson explained, We had long days and a lot of pages a day, and we didn t get a lot of coverage or rehearsal. But luckily, the benefit of doing a movie that s not on a big budget—and the reason it s usually done like that—is so if the filmmakers feel like, OK, we re not going to sacrifice anything on screen, which I don t think they have, it lets them have complete control. So we were in good hands.


The musical score to Insidious was composed by Joseph Bishara, who also appears in the film as the demon. Performed with a quartet and a piano, a bulk of the score was improvised and structured in the editing process, although some recording sessions began prior to filming. On describing the approach of the film s soundtrack, director James Wan explained, We wanted a lot of the scare sequences to play really silent. But, what I like to do with the soundtrack is set you on edge with a really loud, sort of like, atonal scratchy violin score, mixing with some really weird piano bangs and take that away and all of a sudden, you re like, What just happened there?

An exclusively digital soundtrack album was released by Void Recordings on October 11, 2011. Additional songs featured in the film include:

  • Tiptoe Through the Tulips by Tiny Tim (1968)
  • Nuvole Bianche by Ludovico Einaudi (2004)
  • Decode by Paramore (uncredited)


Theatrical run

Insidious had its world premiere in the Midnight Madness program at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2010. Less than 12 hours after its screening, the U.S distribution rights to the film and the worldwide distribution rights to any sequels were picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. On December 29, 2010, it was announced that the film would be released theatrically on April 1, 2011 by the then-relatively new film company FilmDistrict. The film was also screened at South by Southwest in mid-March 2011.

Home media

Insidious was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 12, 2011 through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray bonus content includes three featurettes: Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar, On Set With Insidious, and Insidious Entities. On the day prior to the film s home media release, Sony Pictures and Fangoria hosted a free screening of the film at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles followed by an interactive Q&A with director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell.


Box office

The film opened with $13.3 million, making it #3 at the US box office behind Hop and Source Code. On a budget of $1.5 million, it has since grossed a total of US$54 million in the US and $44.5 million internationally, for a total of $99.5 million worldwide. Insidious was one of the most profitable films of 2011 (with Cars 2 having a worldwide profit of $362 million).

Critical response

Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 66% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 177 reviews; the average score is 6.00/10. The critical consensus is: Aside from a shaky final act, Insidious is a very scary and very fun haunted house thrill ride. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating mixed or average reviews . Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, It depends on characters, atmosphere, sneaky happenings and mounting dread. This one is not terrifically good, but moviegoers will get what they re expecting.

A number of negative reviews reported that the second half of the film did not match the development of the first. Mike Hale of The New York Times wrote that the strongest analogue for the second half of Insidious is one that the filmmakers probably weren’t trying for: it feels like a less poetic version of an M. Night Shyamalan fairy tale. Similarly, James Berardinelli commented, f there s a complaint to be made about Insidious, it s that the film s second half is unable to live up to the impossibly high standards set by the first half. Ethan Gilsdorf of The Boston Globe wrote that he film begins with promise but he crazy train of Insidious runs fully off the rails when the filmmakers go logical and some of the strange gets explained away as a double shot of demonic possession and astral projection.

Positive reviews have focused on the filmmakers ability to build suspense. John Anderson of The Wall Street Journal explains hat makes a movie scary isn t what jumps out of the closet. It s what might jump out of the closet. The blood, the gore and the noise of so many fright films miss the horrifying point: Movie watchers are far more convinced, instinctively, that what we don t know will most assuredly hurt us… Insidious establishes that these folks can make a film that operates on an entirely different level, sans gore, or obvious gimmicks. And make flesh crawl. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote: director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell admire all sorts of fright, from the blatant to the insidiously subtle. This one lies at an effective halfway point between those extremes. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone commented: Here s a better-than-average spook house movie, mostly because Insidious decides it can daunt an audience without spraying it with blood. Christy Lemire of the Associated Press stated: Insidious is the kind of movie you could watch with your eyes closed and still feel engrossed by it.

Awards and nominations

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Year Result Award Category Recipient
2011 Won Fright Meter Awards Best Horror Film James Wan
Leigh Whannell
2011 Nominated Fright Meter Awards Best Director James Wan
2011 Nominated Fright Meter Awards Best Actress Rose Byrne
2011 Won Fright Meter Awards Best Supporting Actress Lin Shaye
2011 Nominated Fright Meter Awards Best Screenplay Leigh Whannell
2011 Nominated Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Lin Shaye
2011 Nominated 2011 Scream Awards Best Horror Film
2011 Nominated 2011 Scream Awards Best Horror Actor Patrick Wilson
2011 Nominated 2011 Scream Awards Best Horror Actress Rose Byrne

Sequel and prequels


A sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released on Friday, September 13, 2013.


A third installment, Insidious: Chapter 3, with Leigh Whannell serving as director and writer, was released on June 5, 2015, to a high box office gross and a mixed critical response.

A fourth installment, with Adam Robitel as director and Whannell as writer of the film, Insidious: The Last Key was released on January 5, 2018, and received mixed reviews.

Year 2010
ReleaseDate 2011-04-01
RuntimeMins 103
RuntimeStr 1h 43min
Plot A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.
Awards Awards, 8 wins & 15 nominations
Directors James Wan
Writers Leigh Whannell
Stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins
Produced by Jason Blum,Brian Kavanaugh-Jones,John R. Leonetti,Oren Peli,Steven Schneider,Aaron Sims,Jeanette Volturno
Music by Joseph Bishara
Cinematography by David M. Brewer,John R. Leonetti
Film Editing by Kirk M. Morri,James Wan
Casting By Anne McCarthy,John Papsidera,Kellie Roy,Avy Kaufman
Production Design by Aaron Sims
Art Direction by Jennifer Spence
Set Decoration by Charlie Leal
Costume Design by Kristin M. Burke
Makeup Department Leslie Borchard,Nikki Carbonetta,Rocky Faulkner,Kelly Golden,David Larson,Liz Mendoza,Tijen Osman,Yesim Shimmy Osman,Justin Raleigh,Tracy Richards,Mandi Ann Ruiz,Eleanor Sabaduquia,Wendy Southard,Lino Stavole,Cici Andersen,Kimberly Graczyk,Brian Kinney
Production Management James K. Jensen,Rick Osako,Bill Wohlken
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Jeff Bilger,Albert Cho
Art Department Eduardo Cisneros,Eric Cohn,Matthew Donaldson,Kaylee Fisher,Jeff Guignard,Brett Hatcher,Niko Hovartos,Kate Mallor,Heather Michel,Max Moreno,Steve Neff,Richard Roraback,Thomas Spence,Brendan McDonald,Peter Tahoe
Sound Department Robert Cross,Joe Dzuban,Stefan Fraticelli,Tim D. Lloyd,Ryan Lukasik,Zsolt Magyar,Craig Mann,George Pereyra,Kevin Schultz,Paul Seradarian,John Sievert,Randy Wilson,Zach Wrobel,Rob Nokes,Greg Zimmerman
Special Effects by Bart Dion
Visual Effects by Adam Berk,Jesse Capper,Chad E. Collier,Stephen DeLuca,Todd Gill,Orin Green,Amy Hollywood Wixson,Michael Janov,Jin Yong Kim,Heath Kraynak,Michael Lester,Javier León,Darren Orr,Richard Pang,Schuyler Pappas,Colin Price,Salvador Ruiz,Nick Sullo,Brian Tolle,Nathan Walker,Gordon T. Wittmann,Matthew Frederick Johnson,John Norris
Stunts Loren Dennis,Danny Downey,Sandra Lee Gimpel,Joel Kramer,Scott Leva,Samuel Reynolds,Katina Waters,Justin T. Woods,Tom Elliott
Camera and Electrical Department Hank Braxtan,Stephen Clancy,John Darko,Jeremy Emerman,Martin Gillette,Clay Glendenning,Kevin Huver,Greg Kurtz,Tony Lopez-Cepero,Robert J. Lynn,Megan Marshall,Tim Marshall,Wayne Marshall,John McDonald,Mark Meyers,Dan Reilly,Scott Ronnow,Paul Santoni,Derek Santoro,Alex Scott,Mark Sirota,Tim Stratton,Shermagne Umali,Drew Adams,Quinton Reilly,Marc-Antoine Serou,Von Thomas,Matthew B. Verschelde
Casting Department Barbara Harris
Costume and Wardrobe Department Laura Cresswell,Megan Stark Evans,Hannah Greene,Sami Martin Sarmiento,Sarah Schuessler,Anthony Tran
Editorial Department Dennis Alaniz,Mark Griffith,Chelsea Kammeyer,Jose Parra,Bill Schultz,Bob Semmer,George Chavez,Richard A. Eisenstein,Dan Muscarella
Location Management David Thornsberry,Jenna Kaye Thornsberry
Music Department Toddy Allen,Alisa Burket,Daphne Chen,Rossano Galante,Saar Hendelman,Jeffrey Holmes,Dana Niu,The Section Quartet,Peter Snipp,Chris Spilfogel,Eric Stonerook,Julie Sessing
Script and Continuity Department Renetta G. Amador
Transportation Department James G. Brill,Jason Messersmith
Additional Crew Laura Altmann,Aaron Becker,Lisa Cabello,Joshua Cubero,Jeremy Emerman,Jeff Fukuhara,Michael A. Galasso,Larissa Grudt,David Halagarda,Robert Holeman III,Joseph Hui,Ruzanna Kegeyan,Carole Levine,Jessica Malanaphy,Sam May,Nat McCormick,Lydia McIntosh,Peter Musooli,Jonathan Nava,Ruben Nava,Derek Nguyen,Britt Poulton,Hiroki Shirota,Matthew Shreder,Owen Sloane,Rachel Stilwell,Adam M. Stone,Cat Stone,Randi Woxland,Grant Adam,Angie Conners,Bailey Conway,Laëtitia Denis,Layla Halfhill,Brian Patrick,Erin Vitali
Thanks Arielle Brachfeld,Linda C. Brent,Kelly Cabral,Eduardo Cisneros,Lary Crews,Leigh Davis,Dylan,David Fox,Colin Geddes,Kevin Greutert,Scott Henderson,Kimberly Ables Jindra,Mike Mendez,Derrick Oliver,Jose Prendes,Stephany Rose,Seh Eng Soo,Stacey Testro,Jeffrey Wolman,Ben Woolf,Katie Ybarra
Genres Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Companies FilmDistrict, Stage 6 Films, Alliance
Countries USA, Canada
Languages English
ContentRating PG-13
ImDbRating 6.8
ImDbRatingVotes 305807
MetacriticRating 52
Keywords boy,house,coma,baby,demon