While looking for movies to add to the Pics and Previews page, I came across Insidious a few weeks ago. It hadn’t shown up on any of my other searches so it took me by surprise. Since it kind of just popped up there, I was expecting just another horror movie that would come and go with no one taking notice. Well, that turns out not to be the case. Everyone in the theater certainly took notice of this movie.
Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) Lambert, along with their three children, move into a new home. One of their children, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), who is quite the explorer, decides to check out the attic one night. While climbing a ladder to turn on the light, the ladder breaks, and he falls down. He appears to be all right until the next morning when he won’t wake up. They take him to the hospital, where the doctor says that Dalton is in a coma, but isn’t sure why. Eventually they bring Dalton, who is still in a coma, back to the house just in time for some scary stuff to start happening.
As with most horror movies everyone wants to know: is the movie scary? I’m not going to waste anytime here, and tell you that Insidious is scary, and creepy. I know some people got all scared during Paranormal Activity, but that really didn’t do it for me. Paranormal 2 got me a little, but nothing like this movie. Since most people knew the point of Paranormal was to scare you, I think some people were prepared for it, while others exaggerated the amount of fear they had. I don’t think people were ready for this movie to actually be scary. For the theater audience, it was all fun and games when the movie began. Once the scares started happening, they were a lot quieter as they braced themselves before literally jumping out of their seats. People actually left the theater, and never returned. I don’t remember that happening when I saw Paranormal. I would really love to talk about a few of the specific scares, but I don’t want to spoil them for anyone.
Whenever the audience sees a house start to be haunted, their first response usually is, “why doesn’t the family just move?” Well, the audience gets their wish in this movie. After some strange things start happening in the house, a scared to death Renai convinces Josh to move. So are you happy audience? You finally got a family that actually got the hell out of the house. Oh wait, little time is wasted before the scares continue coming. Now what? I really enjoyed this change in the storyline because it shows the audience that leaving the home isn’t always an easy solution. As is the case in this movie, there could be something else going on that you are not aware of.
Several things about this movie remind me of other movies. James Wan, who is the director, is known for his work on Saw, but there isn’t much of Saw in this movie. Insidious has more similarities with one of his other films, Dead Silence. In particular, some of the ghosts towards the end remind me of the puppets in Dead Silence. The producer of this movie also produced Paranormal so there are hints of that, but I am glad that it went more in a different direction. The main ghost is a combination of Darth Maul from Star Wars and the goat creature from Drag Me to Hell. It also has a bit of Freddy in it. Speaking of Drag Me to Hell, there is a scene where the parents sit down for a ritual that reminds me of the ritual that is performed to save Christine’s life. I am not sure which of these rituals is more bizarre.
As creepy as the movie is, it isn’t without its flaws. With all the scares, it is almost too easy to overlook the bad acting. The character with probably the biggest role is Renai, and Rose gives a very average performance. The only time she is believable is when she is being scared to death. All though Josh doesn’t become really important until the end of the movie, Patrick is the only one that does a halfway decent job of acting. I don’t really want to bash a kid, but when Dalton isn’t in a coma, Ty isn’t that convincing as a frightened young boy.
Maybe the actors did a bad job because of the writing, which is questionable at times. I didn’t mind the explanation to why Dalton is in a coma and why everything is happening, but it is what they call it. It isn’t a bad idea, but the terms they use make the whole concept seem a little ridiculous. Again, I don’t want to give the storyline away, but I think you will know what I mean when you hear it. Also, they kind of split the movie in two, where the first half they seriously scare the audience, then in the second half they decide to add a little comic relief to the story. They introduce a psychic, and her two employees, who are Ghostbuster rejects. While they are sort of funny, I could have done without the comic relief.
There is also one scene, which is plenty scary, but had me scratching my head. After hearing a noise, Josh comes downstairs to investigate, and just opens the front door. How come the door doesn’t appear locked? He puts on the chain lock after closing the door, and then turns on the alarm. Shouldn’t he have done that before going to sleep? Then there is the other son, and the baby. Once the family moves to the second house, they are never seen again. What happened to them? I don’t remember hearing anything about them going anywhere, or someone watching them. I could see the other son staying with relatives, but I don’t see the mother leaving her baby with someone else.
On a side note, there is something that caught my eye, and I want to know if you caught it too. There is a scene were Josh is sitting in his classroom, and they show the chalkboard behind him. Just over his shoulder is a small picture of a face. Is it me, or is that a picture of the puppet in Saw? I also thought that could be a picture of the old scary woman that is in the movie, but I’m not sure. If it is the puppet from Saw, it wouldn’t be the first time we see it in another movie. Wan includes it in the room full of puppets in Dead Silence. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, be on the look out for it.
It is really refreshing to see a movie come right out, and try to scare the audience, especially when they aren’t expecting the movie to actually be scary. As many people have said about the movie, it brings the audience back to the days of classic horror movies. None of the scares seem cheap, and they keep you on the edge of your seat. If you aren’t analyzing the movie like I was, you probably won’t even notice some of the movie’s flaws. The acting isn’t great, and it appears that they spend so much time with the scares that they miss out on some minor details. Watching Insidious is probably the closest I have been to truly being scared by a movie in a long time, so I give this movie 3.5 pools of blood