Monday, November 5, 2012

Movie Review: Insidious

 If you are a fan of horror films, this is simply a must see.  Insidious does what horror films from Hollywood have not done in a long time, gives you a new take on a classic concept and scares the hell out of you in the process.

 Insidious has all the earmarks of a classic horror film.  The story BUILDS to its final crescendo.  The viewer is first taken into familiar territory.  A young family has moved into a new home where strange things begin to happen.  There is an incident with one of the children, leaving him in an inexplicable coma.  The mother begins seeing and hearing increasingly more disturbing things, with her comatose son seeming to be in the center of these events.

 At this point you say to yourself "Ah, I see.  This is like Poltergeist."  Then, the family moves.  They no longer live on the "Indian burial ground".  The assaults from the other side, however, do not abate.  In fact, they grow more intense, and it is suggested that the comatose boy may be the cause.

 "Ah, I see," you are encouraged to think.  "This is going to be like The Exorcist."
Twins.  Always creepy.  Unless its porn.

 Wrong again. This film actually weaves together a tapestry of different ideas into a compelling theory, and works enough twists into the telling of its tale to keep you guessing... and perhaps make you check the dark corners of your room before going to bed at night.

 This is not the typical haunted house/ghost story.  

Who you gonna call?  These guys.
 James Wan masterfully directs this tale, creating an atmosphere that makes the viewer afraid of what they are not seeing.  Much of the film is shot almost in total darkness, with only the music, sound of movement, and the breathing of the actors suggesting what is going on.  The special effects are artistically understated, relying more on the tried-and-true psychological impact of classic horror-film techniques to let the mind create what is not presented.  The actors all do a fine job with their roles, presenting their characters in a sympathetic and manner the audience can relate to.  The way the film is shot and the tale is told results in a PG-13 film that actually has no need for the gore that would have resulted in an 'R' rating.  

Refugee from a retirement home.
 The only downside may be the "reveal" at the midway point of the film.  For some geeks (like myself), the explanation is intriguing, but the way it is then applied and portrayed in the film is lackluster.  One might argue that the scope of this concept would be difficult for anyone to describe on film, especially while keeping to the parameters established by the first half of the film, but it does take you out of the film somewhat.

 This aside, the film is still wonderfully entertaining and frightening.  I hope they don't screw it up with Insidious 2.   

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