Entries Comments

Insidious A Genuinely Scary Horror Movie For Awhile

Directed by James Wan
Written by Leigh Whannell
Film District, 2011

Wan and Whannell are responsible for Saw, although the sheer insincerity of the franchise that has been taken over since their early chapters is not.  That’s not to say that the first few Saw movies were masterpieces or anything, but let’s just say quality started slipping significantly after the third chapter, even though I still consider Saw II one of the dumbest horror movies of all time.  They are also responsible for an extremely bad horror movie called Dead Silence.  Here, they team with the producers of Paranormal Activity, a franchise that has been kicking around Saw the last two years at the box office.

Insidious has the feel of a Paranormal Activity film early on.  It has a video-to-film quality, and we have a story that seems very similar.  A couple, Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) have just moved into a new house.  They have three kids, including the one who will be the subject of this film, Dalton (Ty Simpkins).  Dalton wanders into the attic and hits his head, and although he seems fine at first, he appears to be in a coma the next morning.  Only, it’s not really like a coma either.  The doctor says he’s never seen anything like it.

That’s when Renai and the other kids start seeing things, people walking around…Ghosts?  Demons?  After awhile, they decide to move to another house, but the same stuff happens.  With help from Josh’s mom (Barbara Hershey), they contact psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), and a couple of ghost hunters (Whannell and Angus Sampson), and find out that Dalton somehow knows how to roam into the afterlife, or some demon world, and that the entities there want to make their way back into the world of the living.  So, the movie then becomes about getting Dalton out of that world without bringing the others in.

There are some truly unexpected scares here, director Wan definitely makes watching the movie an active experience where you start looking into the corners of the frames for things that aren’t normal.  It’s when the movie gets into the explanations, and the finale, that it starts to drag and become not as fun.  As good as Lin Shaye is in her role as the requisite horror movie psychic, I think these types of characters, and the exposition they bring to these movies, is generally a letdown.  But I guess, in general, the movie-going public always needs an explanation for their horror or else they start hating the movie for not letting them in on the secret.  Personally, I’d like to see a movie like this play out and never be told what is happening, because it’s a lot more fun when you don’t know.

This is overall an above-average horror movie.  Horror generally can be very bad, so Insidious distinguishes itself with honest holy-shit scares, and I think this will get some nice word of mouth when all is said and done.

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.