4 Stars
Year Released: 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 102 minutes
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Insidious is a good, old-fashioned scarefest from Leigh Whannell and James Wan (you know, the Saw guys). A gear shift from their gorey days, this film is all about the scare of what is and isn’t there (and the fact it was produced by Oren Peli and Jason Blum of Paranormal Activity fame is apropos). It had me jumping more than a few times, and due to its non-gore and focus on the fright over the profanity, it garnered a PG-13 rating, which should help it do gangbusters at the box office while scaring tons of folks. Which, hey, kudos for freaking people out and getting tons of cash doing it, right?

The set-up is nothing particularly new to anyone who has ever seen a haunted house film before: family moves into new house, things get strange, then creepy and then downright menacing. In this case, the family is made up of husband and wife Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne), and their three children. After an accident in the attic leaves one of their boys in a coma, things go from creepy “is that a voice on the baby monitor” to “HOLY SHIT it’s attacking me!” type ghost issues.

I know what you’re thinking, same old same old, right? Well, that’s why I dug this film so much. On top of actually scaring me, it also flipped convention a number of times. For one, when things get ugly, the family doesn’t build some irrational attachment to their new house and refuse to leave… no, they fucking move! As you would, as I would, as I’ve often wondered why so many others in these films don’t do. Of course, it’s not as simple as just a haunted house.

Film boasts an amazing performance by Lin Shaye as well, as a medium eventually brought in to figure out what’s going on. Her seance scene is over-the-top disturbing and, again, a welcome flip on normal convention. If this film suffers from anything, it’s the resolution, which goes a bit too far in the twist category (and, at that point, things aren’t scary anymore), and the overall look of the ghosts, which is what one would expect in a theatrical play about ghosts (pale face, dark eye shadow).

That said, I liked how obvious the ghosts looked, and even enjoyed the Darth Maul-esque aspect of one of them. Why? Because it wasn’t about the look of the ghosts that was scary, it was what they did, how they did it and the end intentions. In that way, the film reminded me of the first Poltergeist while simultaneously delivering some new language to the haunted house conversation.

Posted on April 1, 2011 in Reviews by

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2 Comments on "INSIDIOUS"

  1. Matt Sorrento on Tue, 5th Apr 2011 9:36 am 

    I agree, Mark — this is a clever film that’s getting a bum rap!

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  2. Doug Brunell on Fri, 15th Apr 2011 9:45 am 

    Mark, I just blogged about this film (click on my name, yo!). I liked it … up until the end. Where you say “things aren’t scary anymore,” you are entirely correct. My piece delved into why, so it shouldn’t be read by those who haven’t seen it. I initially avoided the movie due to, of all things, the rating. I came to my senses, though. I’m not dissatisfied with the end result.

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