REVIEW: Insidious

13 10 2011

The only kind of horror that has any sort of power over me is ambiental terror, such as “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and for a modern example, “Paranormal Activity.”  Any hooligan can orchestrate something to jump out of an obscure spot as an eerie violin slowly vamps to a forte; it takes skill and artistry to craft a lingering sense of foreboding doom.  While “Insidious” would like to join this club, it really falls short of the mark on some basic levels.

It’s clearly aiming for “Exorcist”-level scares with the whole demonic child plot device.  Dalton Lambert winds up in a coma after a freak accident, throwing his grief-stricken parents (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) into distress and panic.  When all sorts of strange and paranormal activities start to occur, they quickly blame the house.  But according to the advice of a spectral expert, the fault is not in their house but in Josh and Renai’s baby.  (Yes, I did just work in references to all three of the movies I mentioned in the opening paragraph.  I had to find some way to make this lackluster movie have some sort of memorable review.)

It won’t take me long to quickly sum up the major flaws of “Insidious” – the exposition is too prolonged and uneventful, the atmosphere is never well established, and the story takes multiple turns towards the ridiculous and absurd towards its finale.  It gets so bizarre that I think Tom Cruise and his Scientologist buddies would even call it far-fetched.  But at least it excels at doing what many sub-par horror movies have to settle for achieving: entertainment.  C+ / 


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6 responses

14 11 2011
Joel

I dug the flick, but it definitely had problems. It succeeded at having some of the best scares this year (I will never listen to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” the same way again, for instance), but it ran into problems in the payoff section, sure…

18 11 2011
Andrew

It’s two-thirds of the way to being a great movie. That last thirty minutes or so goes so much against the grain established in the rest of the film that the entire thing just crumbles; Wan spends a lot of time generating atmosphere and finding quiet terror in the “wrongness” of things rather than by throwing guts on a wall or having a cat jump out of the cupboard. So when he gets to the end stretch and just throws cheap, ineffective scare after cheap, ineffective scare at us, Insidious shows that it has lost its steam.

Which is too bad, because it could have been something special otherwise.

7 12 2011
Andrew K.

Despite being rarely interested in horror films, I did like this one. It’s sort of a hodgepodge of typical horror fare, but it was sort of sincere in its attempts and other than the unnecessary attempts at humour I think it managed fairly well.

3 01 2012
Jacob Anderson

I really liked ‘Insideous’, but your review is pretty spot-on. It did have it’s moments of brilliance, though. Hiding the creepy kid in plainview moments before he legitimately appreared on screen? Brilliant!

But yes, the film does start to turn sour the second it ventures into the “otherword.” On one hand, I liked the minimalist, dreamlike quality of it. On the other hand, I think they could have ramped up the creepiness factor. In the end, it felt more like a cheap carnival spookhouse or high school play than a legit horror film.

I will say, though, the duo of Wan and Whannel has come a long way since the first “Saw” film and I’d love to seem them do another horror film that’s low on blood and high on creepiness like this.

3 01 2012
Jacob Anderson

I can’t believe I just misspelled “Insidious”. Reviewer-cred = gone.

3 01 2012
Marshall

No worries, man. It happens to the best of us. Thanks for stopping by … I do think that maybe I owe “Insidious” a second chance.

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