When I was asked to cover the “Insidious” press junket, screening, and Q&A, I had to think twice. I am not the gal that lines up for the latest film offerings in horror and the paranormal. Add the fact that the writer and director are from the “Saw” franchise and I paused even longer. Little did I know that “Insidious” would be a great departure from bloody series of “Saw.” Over the course of three days, I was able to interview director James Wan, writer Leigh Whannell, and actors Barbara Hershey and Lin Shaye.
The look and feel of the movie is big budget, so it was shocking to learn from Wan that the budget came in around “$800,000 and it was shot over a course of 22 days.” Wan and Whannell really wanted to keep “Insidious” small because they felt like there were too many fingerprints on their last film, “Dead Silence.” In order to keep the studio from meddling, they made sure it was done as a true indie film. Wan even “cut the film in his bedroom on a Mac using Final Cut Pro.” I am not sure how much more indie you can get after I heard that.
Another important element of the film was the score. If you go and watch “Insidious” this weekend, you will see how key it is to the plot and the storyline. Whannell wanted to make sure that “there were no fake scares like a cat jumping out of the closet” like you see in typical horror films because it becomes wasted energy for the audience. He “wanted the audience to pop a Xanax at the end of the movie” because they have been on edge from the whole paranormal journey with the family. In keeping the movie small in both cast and crew, the composer of the film, Joseph Bishara, actually played the key demon, Lipstick-Face Demon. Yes, Lipstick-Face Demon, so when you think you are seeing blood, you are actually seeing lipstick. It was a crazy creation concocted out of the mind of James Wan.
The aspect of relationships is a key element both on and off screen with “Insidious.” It was quite obvious in the way they cast the film with stars, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey. Other than Hershey starring in “The Entity” in 1982, the cast is “not typically associated with [this] genre fare”, says Whannell. While Wan believes that “their performances help to ground the film in reality.” Once you add the wonderful character actor, Lin Shaye, to the mix, you really understand that the creators are trying to make a classic supernatural story. Wan emphasizes that he “want[s] “Insidious” to be this generation’s “Poltergeist.” With the artful thought and planning into getting this movie made, the duo just might succeed. “Insidious” opens April 1st in theatres nationwide, and remember, “It’s not the house that’s haunted.”
To see more of my interviews with Barbara Hershey, James Wan, Leigh Whannell, and Lin Shaye, click here.