May 1, 2011

Review: Insidious (2011)

"Well played, James Wan. You've managed to entertain us yet again..."
Sub-Genre- Supernatural/Haunted House
Cast Members of Note- Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and Leigh Whannell.

Insidious is about a kid that goes into a coma because his house is haunted by some mean ghosts whom apparently like to scare kids to the point of being comatose. I mean, kill the kid or possess him, but put him into a coma? That's just cruel and unusual, even for malevolent spirits. Then again, maybe that's the whole point.

Why is Darth Maul smiling?
With their son in a coma, and a house that gets progressively creepier and creepier to live in, Mom and Dad decide to call in a psychic and her team of Ghostbusters to help sort out the supernatural shenanigans. This is, of course, after the family up and moves away from their first creepy house, and the creepiness followed them to their new digs. I'd call someone too, because how many times can you really move and hope to shake the ghosts out of your packed bags?

"Boo! Now unpack me!"
The story takes a twist from here on out, so I really can't comment on it too much lest I spoil certain plot points, but suffice it to say that the place that the story eventually leads... is kinda lame. It's like going to Hell, only to find out that it's basically like Arizona; really hot and dry, boring, uncomfortable, drab, and an overall sad place to live.

She who guides Carol Ann towards the light.
After hearing some negative word about Insidious, I was doing my best to avoid watching it at all. Sure, that's a pretty big cop-out on my part, but I couldn't help it, I just didn't want to do it. Having seen it now, I once again feel like a moron for listening to anyone else when it comes to something that I originally want to see. I do it all the time. I'm fallible.

The poster for this movie makes you think it's an "evil kid" flick, which it isn't. It also has nothing to do with exorcism or possession (in the standard way.) Insidious is a haunted house flick through and through, and a pretty good one for being rated PG-13. Yeah, the dreaded PG-13 rating, which usually renders most Horror movies instantly less cool, isn't such a big deal in this case. Insidious succeeds not because of blood and boobs, but atmosphere and tension.

James Wan and Leigh Whannell, with only a few flicks under their belts, have proven that they know how to make effective Horror flicks, and that they're here to stay. In one of the best Horror moves of all time, I need to tip my hat to the both of them for doing something that I can't recall ever seeing in a haunted house flick before (feel free to correct me in the comment section if I'm wrong, friends); once shit got too creepy for the family, and they realized something was really wrong in their house, they said "screw this, let's move!" When that happened, I actually yelled "That's what I'm talkin' about!" at the screen; not because I'm "that guy," but because someone finally listened to my advice, after saying "leave!" during so many other Horror flicks over the years.

Yeah, time to go.
I'll give the naysayers this: the third reel of the movie was definitely weaker than everything else that came before it. For the first hour, the movie worked perfectly. It was tense and creepy, and had me fairly unsettled with it's atmosphere and goings-on. Once the "Ghostbusters" arrive on the scene though, the movie branches out a bit and goes somewhere that I wasn't quite expecting. Now, from that point onward, Insidious is less creepy and more... tension-filled, I guess is the best descriptor. It's still effective, but it was more Thriller-ish than it was pure Horror.

Yes, Rose, there are naysayers.
There's buzz on the Interwebs that Insidious as a film steals basically every part of its makeup from other movies, Poltergeist and Ghostbusters chief amongst them, therefore making it suck. Some morons even go so far as to claim that using a creepy old song, the sharpening of knives, and the look of the "main" Demon are specific rip offs of other movies...

Listen, if you've seen 12 or less movies over the span of your lifetime, I can see you saying that. The fact of the matter is though, that it's nearly impossible to make a specific kind of movie in a specific genre without it resembling other previously made movies in some way. Film, literature, music.. they're all art forms that are constantly evolving, and yes, there's a lot of resemblance/homage/and even conscious "borrowing" that goes on. If you want 100% originality all of the time, then the Horror genre would have most likely ended it's ability to ever make new movies with Psycho, The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, The Haunting, Texas Chainsaw, Alien and Dracula. That pretty much makes every slasher, possession, haunted house, zombie, torture porn, space, or monster movie that has come since, invalid.

So in summary, shut up.

Shut up!
A little bit of blood is all we get from Insidious; it's definitely more on the atmospheric side of things.

It's PG-13, come on now.

Creepiness in kids is apparently an inherited thing. Also, James Wan knows how to make him a good Horror movie.

What the...
As PG-13 haunted house flicks go, Insidious is about as effective as it gets... for the first half of the movie, anyhow. It's a fun ride throughout its entirety, just be prepared for a twist and a drop in Creep Factor towards the end. Check it out while it's still in Theaters, or when it hits DVD (hopefully in Unrated form.)


Rose Byrne is awesome, though she needs to let her Aussie accent out to play more often. Along with her boobs.


  1. I initially scoffed at this movie cuz of the PG13, but it scared the crap out of me. I loved Poltergeist and this was of the same ilk.

  2. We scoffed too at first, Scott, but it ended up being pretty damned creepy.

    PG-13 movies can be great; District 9, Taken, Colombiana, 1408, Devil, The Last Exorcism, Drag Me to Hell...

    They can be good when the right care is taken with their story and development.