Insidious: Movie Review

Insidious Movie Review by MoreHorror
by Michael Pickle, MoreHorror

I can safely say that Insidious, the latest film from Director / Writer team James Wan and Leigh Whannell of SAW fame, is sure to be an important film in the Horror genre, but it's not without it's faults. Sure there are not as many faults as Wan's previous lackluster effort Dead Silence and it generates more scares with a PG-13 rating than Dead Silence did with an R, but the potential ultimately outweighs the pay-off.

Insidious is a fairly tight little horror ride that, while it goes off the track here and there, is quite entertaining. It borrows and benefits from highly effective supernatural concepts that we have already seen in classics like The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist, but these are concepts that should be kept alive. Especially since a good haunted house film is even more rare than a good PG-13 Horror film. Insidious is both.

"Insidious" follows the plight of the Lambert family. Young couple Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson & Rose Byrne) juggle their careers and three children while trying to settle in to a beautiful new home (Sound familiar?). Josh is a teacher and Renai is a songwriter and stay-at-home Mom to two young boys, Dalton and Foster, and an infant whose constant crying and crackling baby monitor provide some extra creepiness.

After some marginally spooky moments; Dalton wanders into the attic unattended and falls off a ladder giving him a mild bump on the noggin . The next morning he won't wake up and we soon find out that he is physically fine, but has fallen into a medically unexplained coma.

After months of waiting, worrying and mounting supernatural incidents; Josh's mother Lorraine (portrayed eloquently by the great Barbara Hershey) describes a vivid dream she had in which a sinister, shadowy figure is stalking Dalton and urges the couple to seek the help of family friend and resident medium Elise (Lin Shaye) who brings along wise-cracking ghost hunters Tucker and Specs played by Angus Sampson and writer Leigh Whannell.

In the grand tradition of SAW; Elise proceeds to over-explain that Dalton's spirit is trapped in another dimension she calls "The Further". The longer Dylan's spirit is out of his body the closer a powerful demon gets to possessing him. This is when we become too familiar with the over-exposed demon who looks exactly like a possessed Darth Mull from Star Wars. Some juicy family secrets are revealed and most of the rest of the film is a very Poltergeist-esque quest to snatch Dalton's spirit back from "The Further".

There are quite a few scary moments that save the film from being too convoluted, but once they kick into high gear there are so many that they become hit or miss. Most of them are accented by typical, very loud jump-scare music and screeching violins.

My biggest complaint about the film would be "The Further" itself. Apparently, fog machines are in abundance in this dimension and it looks more like a theme park than a dark netherworld. It's not all that bad and it has some cool visuals, but it's in stark contrast to some of the better, more cerebral frights in the first half of the film.

The formula here is: good scare, cheap scare, been done before, cheap scare, good scare and repeat, Not necessarily a bad formula. Especially for the younger crowd and casual Horror fans. As a matter of fact, the young, casual Horror fans will probably eat it up and enjoy the hell out of it.

Horror hounds, however, will see right through many of the frightening moments as either something we've seen before, relying too much on jump-scare music or showing too much and robbing us of the experience of pulling deeply unnerving scares out of our imagination where the best scares reside. Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of scenes that make Insidious pretty damn scary, but it's up to you to decide whether they are quality or mostly quantity.

All this being said; I liked Insidious a lot. The filmmakers should be commended for making a solid and scary Haunted House film with such a meager budget hovering around a measly $1 Million. The fact that my main gripe is that it shows too much is almost a compliment considering the budget.

A lot of the scares are cheap, but scares are scares and I did jump several times. Yes it could have been better, but it's still better than most Horror films you see in the Multiplex.

Yes, I would recommend it and I would go so far as to say most of you will enjoy it. All I ask is that, after watching it, you give The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist another viewing and give credit where credit is due. The Amityville Horror for a far creepier house and atmosphere without the use of fun-house effects and Poltergeist for a much more compelling and loveable family and timeless, unforgettable scares where elaborate effects and cerebral, imaginative frights go hand in hand.


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