Directed by James Wan
Written by Leigh Whannell
Stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins
Run Time: 1 Hour, 43 Minutes
Renai and Josh Lambert wake up; they’ve just spent their first night in the new house. Renai starts to unpack before Josh even gets up. Their son, Dalton, is up early because he doesn’t like his new room. They have two young boys and a new baby, and they’re all loud and annoying. Finally, Josh goes to work, and the boys go to school. Renai, however, starts hearing strange sounds in the house, but it’s just her and the baby now. She goes up to the attic, and the gas furnace up there turns itself on. Also, someone threw all her books on the floor.
Dalton goes up in the attic later and hits his head, causing much wailing and screaming. Renai finds the sheet music she had been looking for up there. The next morning, Dalton doesn’t want to wake up. They take him to the doctor as he’s now in a coma.
Three months later, they bring Dalton home, but he still hasn’t woken up. Renai starts hearing voices on the baby monitor, but when she goes up there, the baby is alone. Foster wants to change rooms because he doesn’t like it when Dalton, who is still in a coma, walks around at night.
That night, they hear knocking at the front door, but when Josh goes down to investigate, there’s no one there. Renai sees someone standing in the baby’s room just as the downstairs alarm goes off. The front door is now wide open. The next morning, Renai notices that there is a large, bloody claw handprint on the sheet beside Dalton’s foot.
Renai tells Josh that there’s something wrong with the house, that it has a sickness. She thinks the house is haunted, but he keeps working late. She finds someone in her room that night, but the windows are locked. She wants to move. So they move to yet another house. Lorraine, Josh’s mother, helps them move.
At the new house, Renai’s music changes to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” all by itself. She sees a little boy running around in the hallways playing hide and seek. It quickly becomes obvious that this house is haunted too. Or maybe Renai is just insane? She calls in a priest, and Lorraine backs her up. She had a dream about a monster in Dalton’s room that wants him. Then she sees the monster standing right behind Josh. It ransacks Dalton’s room and throws him to the floor.
Lorraine calls Specs and Tucker, a duo of paranormal investigators. They bring a ViewMaster with colored film and other high-tech toys. Tucker almost immediately finds a pair of twin ghosts. They call in Elise, who is a medium. Eliise can see the monster in Dalton’s room and describes it while Specs draws what she describes. Elise says she thinks Dalton isn’t in a coma; his spiritual body is elsewhere. “It’s not the house that’s haunted; it’s your son.” Dalton has been leaving his body in astral form as his body sleeps. He’s gone too far and has become lost in a place she calls “The Further. A place not meant for the living.” These evil entities are gathered around him because he’s just a body with no soul now. One of them is the demon that Specs drew.
Josh puts up with the dog and pony show for a while but says this is all ridiculous. He throws the supernatural trio out. Then he looks at Dalton’s old drawings on the wall and changes his mind. They call in the experts again, and this time, they set up cameras and start a séance. The flashbulbs start going off faster and faster until they lose Dalton. The physical Dalton gets up and attacks the people in the room, and other ghosts come along for a full-scare ghostly home invasion. That could have gone better!
Lorraine comes over and explains how she met Elise. Turns out, Josh was able to astral project as well, and had a problem when he was eight years old. He used to be terrified of an old woman who used to come visit him at night. She has actual old photos of the ghost following young Josh around. He doesn’t remember any of it.
Elise tries talking Josh into astral projecting himself. He used to be able to do it but has blocked out all memory of it. Josh soon finds himself inside “The Further” as he looks at his physical body across the room. He quickly finds Dalton, and then loses him again. Now they have to find their way out. The ghostly old woman is there as well as other strange characters. Josh is the one who is actually alive, so he’s stronger than they are.
“Tiptoe Through the Tulips” starts up again, which seems to be the main demon’s favorite song. Back in the physical world, the house starts to shake, and the light bulbs all explode. They hear things upstairs on the baby monitor. Then they all appear again, terrorizing the living. Meanwhile, Josh and Dalton try to get back to their bodies. Josh confronts the old lady ghost while Dalton runs from the red-faced monster. They both wake up; happy ending!
Renai, Lorraine, and Dalton have spaghetti in the kitchen whole Josh murders Elise in the living room. Renai looks at the photo of Josh and sees the woman in black instead. It’s not over!
They’ve got an awfully large house for a schoolteacher and a songwriter. Renai complains, “This house is haunted, I want to move” and Josh is like, “OK.” It’s not usually that easy, but they manage to go to a second nice house, almost certainly before the first one sold. Economics matter, even in the movies.
I don’t know if you can have paranormal investigators without stepping on the toes of Poltergeist. There’s a lot of story here. Between Josh’s past history and whoever the multiple ghosts are, there’s plenty here to develop in the sequels. Astral projection has been a big thing with “paranormal people” for ages, and this is the only film I can think of that really deals with it to any degree.
The acting is excellent, the story is detailed and rich, there are lots of little details, and the creatures are interesting and unique. It’s got some well-placed jump scares, but it’s pretty suspenseful, even without them. This is definitely one of the best haunted house/ghost/possession stories of recent years.