Director: James Wan
Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
Release Date: April 1, rubella 2011
Actors: Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor
Tired of the endless string of bad horrors and thrillers that we’ve been assaulted with as of late? Hollywood seems to be churning out plenty of no-so-scary horror flicks, and from the sounds of “Insidious”, I thought that it would be another horrible horror film. Never being all that fond of scary films – either from being too scary, or lately finding them poorly executed, I came in not expecting Insidious to be any better. Boy possessed by a demon and haunts their own family? Haven’t we already been there, done that countless of times, by way of movies like “The Omen”?
In “Insidious”, we are introduced to Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne, most recognized from the series “Damages”), who has just moved into a new home with her husband Josh (Patrick Wilson – mmm mmm!) and three children Dalton, Foster (Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor) and baby daughter. One evening, as Dalton falls off a weak ladder trying to turn on an attic light, he bumps his head and witnesses something scary, but does not voice this to his parents. In the morning, Josh tries to wake him up but finds that Dalton does not wake up. Doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him. Months later, Dalton is moved from the hospital back home, remaining in his comatose state. Renai begins to sense something in the home and hears strange noises and voices in the house.
Creepy, quiet and spooky, “Insidious” (directed by James Wan, who brought us “Saw”), gives off vibes similar to “Paranormal Activity”, but without the cam feel that some viewers cannot stomach and with much more bravado and suspense. Though it builds up slowly, the ball starts rolling pretty quickly and rather exponentially once Renai realizes that the house seems to be haunted. Without revealing too much, I believe that “Insidious” is fairly unique in its overall ideas, though one might think it borders on ridiculous. The story comes to a point where the Lamberts bring in a supernatural reader named Elise (Lin Shaye), who has two employees Specs (Leigh Whannell, who also wrote the screenplay) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) who offer what little comic relief there is for the audience. Barbara Hershey as Josh’s mother also makes an appearance. It is when all these characters meet up with one another that the story starts to be a little contrived. The unknown is always better than the known, and it’s perhaps when they show us slightly too much that it makes the story a little bit more hokey in the third act.
Having said this however, the ending is not wholly unexpected, or surprising. After all, it’s a horror film, but this time, you’re not sure how it will quite end, which I found refreshing. As a fan of Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson, I thought the two played a believable couple who had opposing viewpoints on the situation they were they were dealt with, and added just enough conflict to not deter from the main plot too much. The main villain did remind me a bit of Darth Maul (for those who have seen “Star Wars Episode I”), which took me out of the movie a couple of times (hence, the unknown is scarier than the known), which was slightly a let down when we see him up close. This film will either bore you or scare you. It scared me and some people might be able to see the ending a mile away like one of my friends that I went with, but I did not, and I consider myself a pretty good guesser. Looking back though, I suppose it was obvious. To me, it was worth watching.
Unlike “Sucker Punch”, filled with heavy hitting music, “Insidious” was mostly soundtrack-less, effect-less that it felt rather real (up to the point where you meet up with the possessor), again, a lot like “Paranormal Activity”, but with a much steadier camera (to my preference). The opening introduction into “Insidious” was something out of the 70s/80s horror films, with the loud and jarring sounds of violins that made me wonder if I was about to watch a B-list film. However, upon hearing it being played right before the credits and then an equally creepy violin score displaying the credits, I felt it fit perfectly and was a welcome homage to those successful horrors of past. Actress Lin Shayne as Elise was a pleasant surprise – she gave off the right amount of kooky but seriousness that fit her role (some may remember her role in “Something about Mary”) that was somewhat of a break from the constant creepiness of the house. With Elise, you felt safe. Wan was extremely effective in his use of the camera, lingering and panning over items and things you should notice, but never jarring or purposely making things jump out at you. It is because of this “Insidious” is more effective in creating the creepy atmosphere that so many horror films seem to be lacking without having to resort to using cheap tricks.
If you’re looking for something that might make you feel creep-ed out this weekend, “Insidious” should be at the top of your list. Recommended for a dark night outat the theatre. Even the poster gives me the creeps. 3.5 Hooves / 5 Hooves
Sorry, still working on improving my writing – I realize this review is a bit rough!
Watch the Trailer: