Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Insidious (2011)

Fear 5/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 5/5

For the first time in the history of this blog, I am writing a review and still contemplating a film and trying to figure out exactly how I feel about it. What I can say for sure is that Insidious is by far one of the most terrifying and nerve racking horror films released to a wider audience within the past 10 years. I guess my sticking point would be the end where it feels like it all begins to unravel a little bit. Enough of my babbling. Onwards ho!

We begin our film by being introduced to a young family who's in the midst of moving into their new home. A mother, father, two young boys and their infant sister comprise the whole of our seemingly normal family. The father leaves for work one day, leaving his wife to unpack and get things situated. Soon, books placed in a bookcase mysteriously find themselves on the floor and we are introduced to our first piece of evidence that something paranormal is afoot. Along with that, mom remarks to one of the sons (named Daulton) that daddy isn't one for pictures after he asks her to see some of his boyhood photos. A portend to what the future holds?

Things get more peculiar the next day when the mother hears muffled sounds via the baby's intercom. She begins to head up the stairs but before she can make it all the way up, she's greeted by a harsher sounding voice which yells out. That night, while the rest of the family is downstairs, Daulton decides to explore the attic. He climbs up a ladder and falls off after one of the rungs snaps. After landing hard and bumping his head, his nasty fall and recovery is interrupted by sounds that come from the corner of the attic. He then gazes upon something which makes him cry out in terror. Mom and dad rush upstairs and check him over, observing only a bit of a bump. They help him up and then ship him promptly off to bed. The wife recounts the event from earlier that day but that becomes the least of the family's worries.

The next morning, dad heads into Daulton's room to wake him up for school and finds him unresponsive but still alive. The family rushes him to the hospital and after a battery of tests, the doctors are completely baffled by his coma-like state. There are absolutely no signs of head trauma or hemorrhaging.

Fast forward 3 months later and we find the family dealing with the fact that they are providing in home care to their still comatose son. Our haunting continues with each act becoming increasingly more violent. After the imprint of a bloodied hand (which is obviously not quite human) is found on Daulton's bed sheet, the mother breaks down and requests a move from the home.

The family finds a new place to settle but almost immediately, they are greeted by more ghostly presences. Determined to find a cause while at the same time becoming very suspect, the mother-in-law invites her friend (played by the always fantastic Lin Shaye) over to the house as she 'specializes' in these sorts of things. A long with a duo of investigators, the film starts to take on a very Poltergeist-like quality. It's not long before the group comes face to face with the entities that are plaguing the house. And our medium comes face to face with the ghastly creature which seeks to take a hold of the little boy.

The medium gathers the folks and sets out to explain how and why this is happening. I won't go into too much detail here because it's a neat twist. It could have very easily devolved into complete and utter silliness but it doesn't and it's a refreshing take on the supernatural and how (potentially) worlds could collide. As the father accepts what's happened and is asked to 'bring him back', this is where things kind of lose its luster. He 'crosses' over and the treatment of these spirits in their world is remarkable as it isn't your typical transparent-looking type of spirits. The issue came for me with the revelation of this 'thing' that was after the boy and the use of CGI. It really took me out of the experience, especially in the finale when the creature chases after Daulton. Aside from that, the resolution to our film felt a bit hollow but I don't know why exactly.

Overall, Insidious is a pretty solid film. Kudos to James Wan and his take on a good ol' fashion haunted house story that also happens to challenge conventions. But goddammit, I'm struggling with that ending. For those of you that have seen it, what say yous?

Cortez the Killer


NoCalMike said...

I thought it was pretty solid. I also wrote up a review for it, but would kind of feel like an ass posting a link to my review, being that this is my first ever comment on your blog.

I think this movie can satisfy those who love & hate a movie like Paranormal Activity,considering that flick was so polarizing!

Rev. Phantom said...

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love supernatural horror movies, but I'm very picky about them. This one hit all the marks and I was dumbfounded by how much I liked it (I was prepared to hate it). It's not perfect, but for my money it came damn close. To me it was the cinematic equivalent of an amusement park haunted house ride--kind of corny, but fun. Something missing in most horror movies today.

Jeff Allard said...

The climax seems to be the big dividing line as to whether people like Insidious or not. Personally, I felt hooked the entire way - although the use of CGI in one particular shot was jarring. And the final scene left the movie on a note that was, arguably, more downbeat (and perhaps more sequel-minded) than it needed to be.

Still, as someone who hasn't been a fan of anything that James Wan and Leigh Whannell have done so far, I was happily surprised to find myself enjoying the hell out of Insidious.

Emily said...

I agree that the last 20 minutes or so--once Patrick Wilson enters The Further--simply don't match the previous hour plus. It's not an awful ending, but the entire design of this astral world just never felt defined enough to keep me in the same tense state that I'd been in with all those early scares.

I still realllllly liked the film and found it incredibly refreshing, but yes, I totally wish Wan could take a second crack at the climax!

Wednesday's Child said...

The film was so tense at the beginning that it gave itself nowhere to go. Patrick Wilson's character infuriated me from the get-go, because he wasn't really all there for his family, so it wasn't altogether surprising that he made a fatal mistake at the end. It was neat that the truly insidious character ended up being the old woman and not the Darth Maul demon.
I enjoyed the movie but thought it had potential to be so much better. It just goes to show how hard it is to write a well-constructed, even screenplay.

Planet of Terror said...

@NoCal Mike, I encourage blog promotion on here so no worries. Anytime you want to share a link, please feel free to do so.

I'm not sure it's as polarizing a film. It will definitely stir a reaction though.

@Rev, good to see you on here man! Long time no see. It definitely has that carnival haunted house feel to it. And that's what I loved about it too. I guess I just didn't get the sense that daddy really was out to protect the family. From the start, he was kind of aloof. So when the shit hit the fan, and the film concluded, it felt a bit hollow.

@Jeff, I know EXACTLY what scene you are referring to....or at least I think so. The Spider-man like sequence, right? If so, that's the one that really got me hot and bothered too.

You didn't like the first Saw film?

@Emily, for me, I think The Further was constructed as best it could be. Could it have been better? Possibly. I cringed at the idea at first thinking the film would slip into goofy fantasy land territory with rainbows and unicorns. I like that it still stayed (somewhat) grounded in reality. I really could have done without Patrick's character and his fight with the trench coated demon dude or whatever he was. That just looked silly.

@Wed. Child, good to see you again too! Agreed, and that's where I think my sticking point ultimately lies. I didn't feel like he had a strong connection to his family and he was completely aloof. As such, the end just didn't have that resonance that it should of had.