Friday, January 17, 2014

Insidious Movie Review – "It's not the house that's haunted. It's your son."

Runtime: 103 minutes
Release Date: April 1, 2011
Rating: PG 13
Director: James Wan

Renai (Rose Byrne, Devil) and her husband Josh (Patrick Wilson, The Conjuring) move into a new house with their children. Their son Dalton points out that they don't have any pictures of his dad when he was a kid, which Renai thinks isn't odd. It doesn't take long before strange things begin happening in the house. Renai sees dark shadowy figures, hears odd noises, and eventually gets attacked by one of those ghosts. She convinces Josh that they need to move immediately, but the ghosts of the old house follow them.

After talking to Josh's mom Lorraine, Renai learns that she went through something similar when Josh was a child. Dalton slips into a coma that no one can explain, and Lorraine convinces her that it must be something supernatural and suggests that her friend can help. Elise comes for one visit and instantly realizes that something is wrong. She reveals that Josh once had the ability to astral project himself and that Dalton can likely do the same thing.

Elise also explains what happened to Josh all those years ago. Lorraine began seeing the ghost of an old woman in every photo taken of him. The woman's hand kept getting closer and closer to him, and Elise basically hypnotized him to make him forget. She believed that the woman wanted to possess him, and when he couldn't use his special skills any more, the woman disappeared. Though Josh never remembered his abilities, he never liked having his picture taken after that. With Elise's help, Josh agrees to go into the spirit world and bring back his son.

I don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but I really didn't like Insidious the first time I saw it. There were so many good reviews floating around at the time that I assumed it had to be really great. I sat down to watch it with my roommate, and we both looked confused when it ended. Neither of us thought it was very good, and we both wondered why it got such great reviews. After hearing people talking about it more than two years later, I decided that I had to have missed something. When I rented it, he gave me that look, but after we watched, we both had to admit that it was pretty good.

Confession time: I actually watched this twice in the last few weeks. Once when we rented it that night and once again before I sat down to watch the second film. A review for that one will be up shortly.

There is something that is just generally unsettling about the movie. When Renai walks outside and hears the music playing before seeing the figure in her home, I almost jumped out of my seat. It doesn't help that Tiptoe Through the Tulips is one of the creepiest songs ever recorded. Insidious just has this really dark mood that leaves you wondering what will happen and realizing that anything can happen at any time.

So many modern horror movies try to force scares, which leaves me angry and annoyed. Paranormal Activity, with its clear lack of anything happening until the last few minutes, is a good example of this. Insidious is the type of film that lets you know that a scare can pop up at any moment. You find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat and just waiting for the next moment that will make you jump.

Insidious is a good example of a film that you should watch after the hype dies down. There are some films that reviews pump up so much that they can't be nearly as good as you expect. Once I sat down and watched this without the reviews in my mind, I found it much more enjoyable. I doubt I will ever say that about The Conjuring though...

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