Unless you’re talking about a visionary horror genius like, say, Guillermo Del Toro, I generally think it’s better to imply but not show the BBST (big bad scary thing). Frankly, our imagination of the horror is generally much more terrifying than whatever the director and CGI wizards can come up with. In fact, more often than not, the demon/ghost/witch/alien is kind of a joke.
Which brings us to Insidious. The first half of the film, about a beautiful young family that moves into a house that seems to be haunted (the whole thing is a rather explicit homage to Poltergeist, which I endorse), is filled with the genuine dread of the half-seen and hinted at.
The second half, where the family hires a medium and tackles the BBST head on, shows us the evil creatures that are afoot in a big way. And while I have to admit that the evil freak show does provide some nice chills, it replaces the slow burn of dread with something overcooked and cheesy.
Still, no one can accuse director James Wan of holding back....