Insidious: Short Review By Sub-Editor Ross Hughes
Oh Insidous, for the first forty minutes you were like a dream for this horror fanatic. I am being serious when I tell you that I have never seen a horror film like this before that has made me jump out of my skin so much. I was virtually at the edge of my seat with such outstanding set-pieces that made my heart jump from my chest and my wife screaming by the side of me. It was horror at its most brilliance and the scene that summed up the creative force on offer was the around the kitchen table scene that is probably thee best horror moment of the year. That alone summed up what Insidious at that moment was offering to the horror fans. A simple shock fest with a mission to scare the crap out of all who watched and oh boy did I love it! My blood was ripping through me with excitement, I could feel that I was watching something special here, a horror that was all set to sail straight into my list of best of and I waited to see what the rest of the film offered. What other scare could this offer to my horror bone, so I waited, and then I waited and I waited some more………..and then something bad was happening, the overwhelming feeling I had of joy was slowly slipping away to be replaced by frustration and reasons began to enter my head into why Insidious is one horror I am not going to join the ever growing fan club.
Insidious stars Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as Josh and Renai, a young couple who with their three kids move into their new home and are just settling into their new life when their young son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) goes up to the attic, falls of a broken ladder and bangs his head. Seeming fine and putting him to bed, the young couple to their horror wake in the morning to discover he has inexplicably lapsed into a coma. The doctors are at a loss and can not diagnose what has happened to him and its here the film skips to three months later with Dalton still in his comatose state and is at home to be monitored in comfort and of care with his parents. Its at this point strange things start to happen, first slowly but building more frequent and leading to terrifying events that leads Renai to see ghosts in which she begs Josh to move away from their new home. In what must be a horror first and an idea that bursts with originality, they move, into a new house so they can put all the recent trauma behind them, but only a few days in, the spooks are back, have they followed them to their new home? Or is it something else?, to their horror, they discover that it’s not the house that was haunted at all.
Insidious is to put it blunt, the bastard offspring of Paranormal Activity. It was purely created for those fans who did not care for the slow build up of Activity, where you spend many nights with a couple sleeping in their beds while you scan the bedroom room straining to see something in the dark. Insidious is for those who like their horror in their face which the intent is shown straight away with the music score that blasts from the screen. There is no time here to be wasted on slow scares, the film has a need to reach out to those Final Destination gang who head to the cinema on a Friday Night on a look out for blood and gore. With not offering any of that, the makers decide to go all out with multiple shock scenes that generally work and are pleasing to the eye, but with all this haste they forgot about the plot. Its all very well filling out the first half with the horror scare, the last half also needs to offer something new and while it may please the new horror goer, for the older generation it all becomes a very laughable with a very tiresome story.
Before I get to the last half, I need to stress how good the first part is. If it carried on in this path then you are surely looking at a horror masterpiece-its that good. I do not think I have ever seen a Haunted House film that puts you right in the place of the people involved. It really was brilliant film making by James Wan, but the downward spiral starts when the parents decide to seek out help, its here the film goes all daft and you can not help and think of a certain Tobe Hopper film when the three “ghostbusters!” arrive on scene. Before you can shout Carol Anne rip off, the cameras are set and these investigators led by a Tangina Barron type Lin Shaye are calling out to all things that go bump in the night and a massive sigh came across this horror fan who has seen this story done too many times before. The arrival of these three with their backpacks ruins the tension and build up that the film managed to create. No longer was this a freaky ghost story about a young family trying to survive the night, Insidious had moved into 80’s cliche.
Die-Hard fans would dismiss the word cliche and call it homage, but being of a certain age there was nothing from this point which excited me and it got worse, well not worse, just laughable. The script becomes a daft chunky plot about Astral out of body experiences and when we hit the reality of the very dumb name The Further which is too stupid to even go into here, you realise how far this has gone from its original concept!
We even have the potential of a new bogyman to grace the screen for further sequels. The figure of Lipstick Face (that is the name in the end credits) is shown heavily towards the films climax which I can only guess is on purpose, because not only does play like a Freddy Kruger style icon, but the entire “What is behind the red door!” finale comes across like A Nightmare On Elm Street film. The house, mist on the floor, dark corridors, a staircase, watch this moment and think of the scene of Kristen in Elm Street III and you get what I mean. Even then with that in mind another film hits you hard when you hear the “Follow My Voice!” simply because its way too similar to the “Don’t go into the light!” that has become an infamous quote from a much better movie that was the obvious inspiration for this film.
Wan can not end a movie with a twist in the tail and its not bad, even though it does not make much sense when you think about it (but then much of what happens in the later half doesn’t), and of course the film has enough for the cheap thrill to get excited about and no doubt a franchise is born here. At the end of the watch I was left with the assumption that Insidious is a perfect horror for those who are way into the new craze of re-makes and endless sequels. Its simple approach and need for scares at every moment will thrill the new generation. For me and others, we can only weep at the lost opportunity that was on offer here, its goes from brilliant to daft in a matter of minutes and probably in a few years time will not share the same status with the much superior films of say The Devils Backbone and The Orphanage, when looking back it should have for only those opening 40 minutes!