Thursday, April 14, 2011
Insidious - 103m – PG-13
This movie relies on the subtle jump-out-and-scare-you style of horror film. There are many times when I saw the set-up to scare me. I knew they were coming and I still was taken aback by how well it was performed. They made me jump even when I was expecting it, which was very cool. The down side is that the thrill only lasted so long because of some poor choices in design and the movie lost me. This started as a suspense horror film and then kind of came off as a campy 1950 style horror matinée flick about halfway through. It only gets a yellow light form me.
We start off like many haunted house stories. Father Josh (Patrick Wilson), Mother Renai (Rose Byrne), two boys, Dalton and Foster (Ty Simpkins and Andrew Astor) and baby sister (who I can’t get a credit for) move into a creepy new house with moving things and strange noises. The family, unlike most horror movie families, decided to move out. In the new house all is well. Or is it? As it turns out it’s one of the boys who is haunted. We bring in some experts and fight back the evil surrounding the boy. Barbra Hershey plays Josh’s mother and she brings in her friend Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) a psychic who works with two ghost hunters Specs (Leigh Whannell) who is the films writer, and Tucker (Angus Sampson). The ghost hunters are really there to relieve tension in the movie. Unfortunately the main bad guy does just fine all on his own.
They did a good job of capturing the look and feel of some of the classic Vincent Price era hair-raising suspenseful horror films but I think it was a poor choice to have the demon look so much like another bad guy from the Lucas franchise. You know the one. Cough... cough DARTH MAUL cough, excuse me. Up until they showed the bad guy I was fine with the movie. There should have been someone from the art department there to stop that unfortunate mistake.
The film was directed by James Wan of Saw fame and this is a good example of him expanding away from the slash and splash horror film. I think with some more work he can expand onto more levels of horror. Aside from that “DM” bit it was a good film and well made. Leigh Whannell wrote this and is also a part of the Saw team. It’s good to see them experimenting with different flavor of horror.
The biggest problem with films in this genre is the misunderstanding that horror has to be in your face and explosive. Loud does not equal scary. It takes a master to make the film build slowly and let the viewer scare themselves. If you have brought the viewer along correctly all you have to do to scare them is something very small on screen. It’s those moments I savor in a horror film. An excellent example was in Independence Day. The shot where the camera focuses on the eye of the creature and all it does is open. Everyone in the audience jumped at that small action. It was fun on my second viewing to watch the reaction to it. Try this, if you have seen the horror movie already and know a scary part is coming up, turn and watch the audience jump in unison.
For this review I ask you what is one scene that scared you the most in a movie, I mean the most mind bending reality cracking scariest moments. One that stands out in my mind is from Signs when Mel Gibson is walking through the corn fields and with his flashlight we see a green leg step back into the corn. That freaked me out. What is your scariest memory in a film?