Directed by James Wan
After an accident a boy falls into a coma and now his family might save his soul from a demon that has captured it while the father confronts secrets of his own past.
The family here is shockingly normal in their portrayal. The father (Patrick Wilson) and the mother (Rose Byrne) could easily be found in any suburb or PTA meeting. The children are not overly precocious or put forward (initially) as being anything special. Grandma (Barbara Hershey) is very much a modern grandmother. Truthfully you could not cast her as the retro stereotype. Even Elise (Lin Shaye) falls into this mold. The only oddballs are Steven “Specs” (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). This helps to drive home that these are extraordinary circumstances in an ordinary environment and heighten the tension.
Characters, from supporting to main, are well developed AND intelligent. There are no exceedingly stupid decisions. No decisions that make the viewer facepalm are made. Even if it turns out to be a bad idea, it looked logical at the time.
Insidious is a movie that you should pay attention to what goes on in every scene. Stuff happens in the background that is important that if you do not catch it, you’ll either be left a little confused or really scared when it comes to the forefront. It is a detailed environment. It is one of those movies that you must watch more than once if you want to see all that there is to see. This helps to make it one of the better horror films of recent years.
An important aspect of horror is not just the story but the music. The right music can make the creepiest film creepier and that is what they do here. Before I wrote this review, I attempted to watch Insidious late at night. It was the weekend and I could not sleep so popping in a movie seemed like a good idea. I made it through the first 2 1/2 minutes to the point of the opening title card and when those notes played, I had to turn it off. It was just too creepy, and I knew I would not have a good night’s sleep if I kept watching. Good horror music adds to what the film is doing.
Psycho. The Friday the 13th films. The Nightmare on Elm Street series. The Halloween movies. All iconic films and film series that have musical scores which help to intensify what the creative minds are trying to do. None would be as effective without them.
There are not a significant number of special effects here. Near as I can tell any special effects put into this film are minimal with the bulk of effects appearing to be practical effects of some type. They did not try to wow you with supercool visuals via CGI here. There were some but the bulk of what we see appears to have been crafted on the set and not on a computer.
The majority of the netherworld referred to as “The Further” is a prime example of this. For all its weirdness and unusual visuals, it is just the film sets with odd lighting. And it works so very well. The demon’s lair looks like a slice of hell. It has a look not too different from a boiler room.
The story is well written and slowly builds to its fast-paced conclusion. You are on the edge of your seat the whole time afraid of what will come next.
Speaking of the conclusion, I do not agree with the death of Elise. I am not sure if it was done for pure shock value or they thought it was a necessary outgrowth of the storyline. I just thought it was an unnecessary move by the demonic spirit. You are letting the world know you are out. And from a production standpoint it makes it difficult to do sequels, but they do conquer that in the later films. She is really the only character that could have taken us regularly into this supernatural world.
Insidious is a modern horror classic. It is a frightening movie that is filled with realistic if not at times quirky individuals placed in to an extraordinary situation. There are no ridiculously idiotic decisions. This is a good film you will enjoy, and you will come back to. Just avoid it if you are alone or it is late.