Who's In It: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson
The Basics: See if any of these plot points sound familiar--a family moves into a new house and slowly starts to hear weird creaks and whispers among their scattered boxes. The mother (Byrne) casts wistful glances towards light sources that indicate that she has some kind of "past." The father (Wilson) quietly worries and works. Suddenly their child (Simpkins) falls into a coma and things get even creakier and whisper-ier around the house. The family finally stops thinking they're nuts and bring in a team of professionals (Shaye, Whannell, and Sampson) who tell the couple things they do not want to hear and are promptly kicked out of the house. Soon, the family can no longer live in denial and they go to war with a force outside their wildest dreams, where they learn the TRUTH about what's going on. Is this reminding you of anything? Like, say 77.2% of any horror movies ever made?
What's The Deal: There's good news: This movie is definitely better than most of the major releases in the horror genre these days. If you are dead set on going to the theater and seeing a scary movie, this one has some good jumps in it (the lady in front of me loudly admonished Patrick Wilson for not believing the psychic several times before being shushed by everyone in the theater, so she was into it). Although the majority of the film consists of stuff we've seen 8 billion times before, there is a strong effort made to go outside expectations in the last 30 minutes, and the movie ends up being okay. I won't spoil the ending, but it goes somewhere interesting. I give them applause for trying, because it left me glad I have a nightlight in my bathroom.
Fun With Archetypes: Rose Byrne has now joined the ranks of CineMatriarchs Dealing with Ghosties. This is a club filled with talented actresses, like JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist), Sally Kirkland (The Haunted), Margot Kidder (Amityville Horror), Nicole Kidman (The Others), Deborah Kerr (The Innocents), and even her co-star in this film, Barbara Hershey (The Entity). She measures up fine here, although the film's reliance on often-used storylines mutes her performance down to a shadow of what has come before her. The most positive thing I can say about the first 2/3 of the script is that at least it doesn't make anything too overt--it just uses a familiar beat and then quickly moves on.
Name That Apparition: See if you can figure out what ghosts are paying homage to what film, unofficially of course. This will make for a fun drinking game when this comes out on DVD.