Review: 'Insidious' Is Insidious
Where do I start? Umm… ok, well, here we go… is it fair enough to say James Wan and Leigh Whannell are geniuses? In my eyes, yes! Is it safe to say Jason Blum, Steven Schneider and Oren Peli are geniuses? Umm… Yes! Why? Well, who knew these people would generate horror franchises (“SAW” and “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY”) out of simple ideas which served as low-budget thoughts and perhaps snubbed at one time, but taking the world by storm when opening it up to a broader audience. Like knowing where I was when I first got laid or when hearing Chris Brown turned into The Hulk and tore a green room apart, I totally recall the day and where I was when I first saw “SAW” or “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.” For years the horror genre (Not an easy one) has been suffering from an ‘It Factor.’ In the eyes of many I know horror for some crazy reason unknown to me is defined by some maniacal subject running around hacking people up with a machete and for some reason the more blood and gore, the better! Ok, it might work form time to time, but to be very honest, horror should be presented in a much more subtle way which allows you as a viewer to not only be able to suffer the visual horror, but also strong enough to take over your brain like a PC virus would over a motherboard.
Many may argue (I’m one of them) that “SAW” may have jumped the shark after a few sequels, and perhaps “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY” not being as frightful as they marketed it to be, but the core of these franchises lies in how they’re written, shot, marketed and exposed. Whether we like it or not, they’re always delivering something interesting, opening up a new chapter and always generate wonder of just how far fright films can go versus events/and or unknown forces questionable enough to REALLY exist or clever enough by whackos to actually craft and act out! Whatever the outcome or personal reasons for viewing these kinds of films, a major thrill about the experience is playing with our psyche and testing just how much we can tolerate.
Individually these guys have made a mark in our contemporary world of fright flicks, however, what happens when these two entities yap and unite? Well, the answer to that is clear—‘INSIDIOUS!’ After much discussion and throw backs between team “SAW” and team “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY” it was inevitable to take their golden nectars and see what would happen when crossing their streams. The end result for me was quite positive and without any regret I say one of the best horror flicks I’ve seen in years!
‘INSIDIOUS’ follows a married couple, Renais (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick Wilson) settling into their new family home. As soon as they get there, way before unpacking, strange unexplained happenings occur which are first experienced by Renais and then ever so subtly continue through the rest of the family. As cryptic eerie events escalate, the supernatural attacks are a lot more relentless, until one day when it forcefully slips the couple’s oldest son into a mysterious coma. Renais and Josh abadon their ghost-ridden home and attempt to heal their broken family’s wounds by turning a new page, which leads to even more unwanted/and or unwelcomed surprises leading to an unorthodox expert in supernatural occurrences (Lin Shaye) for help in ways their fragile third dimensional minds ever expected.
Now, many can read this synopsis and say “I’ve seen this before!” and to a degree, they’re right! How many times have we seen the typical suburban white family being haunted by crap beyond their comprehension, fight it and wind up experiencing more than your average Jane or Joe can? It’s pretty common, right? Well, the thing is that as “common” as this storyline may seem with ‘INSIDIOUS,’ what makes this story GREAT is the fact that just when you think you’ve figured out what’s transpired, you haven’t! You haven’t, because the way it’s layered, is in purposes of paying homage to many of the past horror films which played with our brains in the most frightful psychological way ever. If I had to describe what this film represents, it’d be like this: ‘INSIDIOUS’ represents the offspring of an acid trip, demonic night entailing a horrid fearsome threesome between ‘THE EXORCIST,’ ‘CARINVAL OF SOULS’ and ‘POLTERGIEST.’ I don’t know who ejaculated inside who during this pornographic horror act, but the end result covers all three bases, feeding those with darkened hearts and minds what they thrive on—twisted feelings!
Right from the start, the tracks which are used to open up the film are pretty intense. As sound effects set the tone, there’s scenery which covers angles of the house exposing not only its inhabitants, but also informing of an unknown presence. Right when it feels like credits are about to end and start off with the film, a loud heart pounding screeching sound displaying the film’s title sets an uneasy pace of where it is you’ll be taken with ‘INSIDIOUS.’
Another form of genius is how James Wan really didn’t want to waste time with build up. Knowing what audiences want, he gets right into it. Of course the scares during the first act aren’t as intense or mind-boggling as those in the third, but from strange occurrences like misplaced objects, to the creepiest of vocal sounds through baby walkie monitors, the anticipation of what’s to come builds as scenes move from one frame to the next. When dividing the core of each scare via acts, once done, most will realize how the horror jumped from one topic to the next. What may seem like the cause really isn’t, and when intertwining scare tactics, James Wan along with the brilliance of Leigh Whannell (Who also has a role in the film), never seem to let go when gripping your attention-span.
‘INSIDIOUS’ made me jump more than once and for someone that’s seen LOTS of horror films, the number of films that have had the capabilities to do that to me are limited. To be honest, I can actually count them on one hand, and I’m really happy this movie can be placed on that list. Without any doubt this piece will be pretty successful monetarily, but what I’m scared of is that the Bush era mindset of “To Big To Fail” hits and Hollywood starts to push for sequels. Seeing the way this film ended, versus the debatable successes of the “SAW” and “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY” sequels/and or franchises, my vote is to PLEASE leave this one alone. Sometimes it’s better to go away on top, rather than aim high only to fall flat on your face. It’s not to say the franchises mentioned have fallen on their face, but I’m a horror geek and there’s nothing more attractive than originality and its scarce existence!
For a low-budget film to not only carry lots of weight in all forms from story to cast, and successfully keeping it bloodless as well, I urgently advise that James Wan be given ‘X’ amount of dollars every year and allow him to openly utilize his twisted authenticity to keep hashing out horror films that not only scare the crap out me/and or us, but also keeps the link of horror films growing, alive and freakier than ever! ‘INSIDIOUS’ IS insidious, and you’ll see what I mean once you’ve seen it. I’m dying to see how a broader audience reacts to this film and here’s why: It’s not about a haunted house! It’s not about some maniac running round crafting murders at the hands of the victims themselves! The overall outcome for this film goes deeper than most may think, and that remains to be seen by those who will inject themselves with a pretty lethal dose of ‘INSIDIOUS’ once it opens this coming Friday, April 1, 2011. Like everything else, you’ll have negative remarks from others, but you know what? F’em! With that said, It’s loud! It’s intense! It’s psychologically stunning! And last but not least, it’s meant to be seen in a theater while in the company of other lost souls seeking darkened direction!
GRADE: A / GENRE: Suspense and Horror / ROARS: 5 out of 5
RATED: PG-13 / RUN TIME: 1 Hr. 40 Min.
STARRING: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey
DIRECTOR: James Wan
(Opens Friday, April 1, 2011)
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