September 14, 2010
Dir. James Wan
Prod. Jason Blum, Steven Schneider, Oren Peli
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Andrew Astor
It feels like ages since I last wrote a film review! I decided that to get back in the swing of things I would start with one of my favourite horror films: Insidious!
Now, I’m not usually a big fan of horror. I’ve seen my fair share and I’ve definitely gotten into it more in the past few years, but it really depends on the type of horror.
Gore? Can’t do it. All the Saw films are out and even Final Destination 5 was too much. Stuff with real people? Forget it. And I don’t mean real actors, I mean just normal people who wear masks and break in to people’s houses to torture them. Scream, Cabin in the Woods, The Purge terrify me. Some of them I can take, like Prom only because it’s more stupid than scary.
Weird supernatural things that don’t really make sense? Those I can do. They freak me out, but it’s the kind of freaky and scared feeling that is enjoyable in a horror film. That’s how I feel about Insidious.
When Renai (Byrne) and Josh (Wilson) Lambert move into a new house with their three children: Dalton (Simpkins), Foster (Astor), and baby Cali, they think things are going to be perfect. However, it isn’t long before strange things begin happening.
After Dalton mysteriously falls into a coma, seemingly for no reason, Renai begins noticing things around the house. Strange sounds coming from the baby monitor, the piano playing by itself, even weird figures suddenly appearing in the house.
The couple eventually decide to move to a new house, but the strange occurrences do not stop. Despite Josh’s disbelief at the whole situation, his mother, Lorrain (Hershey), decides to call an old friend, Elise Rainier (Shaye), who she believes can help.
Elise discovers Dalton has a gift; an ability that allows him to travel when he sleeps. According to Elise, this isn’t good and Dalton has travelled too far to a place called “The Further”. Here, other entities live, evil entities who are trying to use Dalton’s body as a way to travel to the human world. One demon in particular has attached itself and they must find a way to bring Dalton back before it is too late. The only way to get him nback? Send Josh into The Further and rescue Dalton, but Josh must do so without bringing anything else back with them.
I love this film. It’s creepy without being over the top terrifying. The acting is amazing, the music is great, and despite the supernatural elements, it’s one of the more realistic horror films I’ve seen. I’ll get to why in a minute.
The cast in this film all did an amazing job. When you make a supernatural horror, you run the risk that your cast won’t be convincing. They need to believably pretend that they’re really encountering these spirits and entities. Even if the spirit is a person in a costume, if they can’t pretend it’s real and make their performance convincing it can ruin the whole film. The Messengers anyone? However, I didn’t find that to be the case with Insidious. The children in particular did a fantastic job.
I always wonder what it must be like to be a kid in a horror film. It’s not like other child actors who go, do their thing on set, and then go home and forget it all. If you’re in a horror movie that stuff can follow you home. Ty Simpkins even said he cried while making the first film.
However, that fear did not deter any acting ability and both Ty and Andrew did a phenomenal job in their roles, both in this and the sequel.
Someone else who did an amazing job was the composer. Honestly, the scary scenes in this film probably wouldn’t be all that scary if it weren’t for the music. Creepy music sets the scene, it’s what really makes you jump when the demon appears.
I actually find the Insidious soundtrack/score to be one of the creepier ones I’ve heard. In most films or even video games I usually find there’s some sort of build up. The scary strings start quietly and build to the moment where the monster or villain jumps out.
Insidious is like: oh, it’s nice and peaceful and then BAM! Scary strings and demon are in the room!
And don’t even get me started on this song:
This song sounds like it could be nice, right? It’s bubbly and talking about tulips. But nope, nope, it’s just super creepy. I kind of wonder what it would be like if I hadn’t heard this song for the first time in this film. Would I like it? Would it be less creepy? Or would it not make a difference and it’s just a naturally creepy song.
Like, every time I hear “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse, I think of vampires playing baseball. Every time I hear this song, I picture the creepy red-faced demon and the old lady.
Fun fact about the red-faced demon that I learned last week is that he is actually played by the composer of the score, Joseph Bishara. He works as a composer on many horror films sometimes actually appears in the films. Not only was he the red-faced demon, but he was also Bathsheba in The Conjuring and Demonic Figure in Annabelle.
I really enjoy the Insidious films because, as creepy as they are, they still manage to add a bit of humour. The humour comes in the forms of Specs (Whannell, who also wrote the film) and Tucker (Sampson). Their banter and fear over what they’re seeing adds a comic element to an otherwise scary film. It also adds a dose of reality because, let’s face it, most of us would react to a ghost by screaming and tripping over ourselves to get away.
But this is only one of the things that makes it more real. I said earlier that Insidious is actually one of the more realistic horror films I’ve seen. Sounds crazy, right? Given what the main premise of the film is.
It’s obviously not the supernatural elements that make it realistic, but rather the reactions the people have to those supernatural elements. Everyone in a horror films screams when something bad happens, but in other films they also walk towards the strange noises when they’re home alone and ask if anyone is there. They walk into rooms when they hear things and leave the lights off. In other horror movies, they stay living in the haunted house!
Insidious did it right. They creep quietly when they hear scary noises and are home alone. They turn on the lights! I was so ridiculously happy about this. If you’re in a horror film and you walk around your house in the dark, you get what’s coming to you.
Also, finally, they leave the house! It doesn’t make a difference in this movie, but they tried which is more than what other scary film inhabitants do.
Insidious is one of my favourite horror films. It has so many fantastic individual aspects that, when combined together, make a really great movie. Even if you’re not typically a fan of scary movies I’d recommend Insidious. It’s a great introduction to horror and is basically what got me started on watching most of the other scary movies I have.
Also, figured I’d add this in at the end. I just saw Insidious Chapter 3 and that one was terrifying. By far the scariest of the three.
Have you seen Insidious? What did you think?
Do you have a favourite horror movie?