While bereft of any significant boobage, or nudity of any sort, Insidious (written by Leigh Whannell and directed by the inimitable James Wan) stands shoulder to shoulder with a select (and diminutive) group of films – those actually genuinely scary and not chock a bock full of BS jump scares and crappy camera angles.
"Its not the House thats Haunted"
The taglines a pretty damn good hint as to whats going on. Much of this movie plays like a throw back to horror films of the 70s and 80s, with heavy elements of Poultergeist and Amityville - a seemingly innocent family moves into a new house and strange things begin to happen.
The eldest child, while playing in the attic, suffers a head wound, and shortly thereafter falls into a coma, though for apparently unrelated causes. While comatose, mother and father begin experiencing increasingly bizarre events, and learn more and more about their injured son, and what abilities he may have.
A little out of character for a movie that seems to fit so solidly into formula, the family moves (something we all think at some point 'why don't you just flippin MOVE?!') but that doesn't solve their problem. If anything, things get worse.
Eventually they enlist the help of some paranormal investigators - and they uncover a problem that only the father...and the Further...can solve.
Holy. Frakking. Shnikes.
Even just thinking back through the movie I still get chills. It took every ounce of my copious manly flesh not to squeal like a prepubescent schoolgirl.
The sound design. Lets talk about that. For Pete's sake...Robert Cross (sound designer) knew EXACTLY what he was doing. I've always said that the most important thing in ANY horror movie is the soundscape and Insidious is the perfect example of this. Building tension constantly, keeping the viewer on edge throughout, leading to false climaxes, which in turn lowers the viewers defenses, until BOOM some creepy ass demon shows up.
Cinematography. Whew. The framing is relentless. Constantly positioned so there's always a possibility of SOMETHING showing up (and it often does). Do you recall the little kid standing in the corner when they first move into the new house? No? Everyone misses it the first time. And thats absolutely brilliant.
The angles are tight, even in the face of demons, forcing the viewers to keep present. Its brutal. Its terrifying. Its wonderful.
All together, every part of this movie works wonderfully. Its constituent elements are fantastic but composed, its brilliant. The acting, the writing, the storytelling – all keep you on the edge of your seat. The fear is a slow build, with huge adrenaline filled peaks, and you’ll find yourself unable to turn away.
Also, its nice to see writer Leigh Whannell stepping into a role as Specks, part of the comedic ghost busting duo, whose scenes with Elise (played by Lin Shaye) are easily the most chilling in the series. When shes speaking to him through that medieval gas mask contraption your goose bumps will feel like they’re jumping off your arms and your balls will crawl up for warmer weather.
As far as conclusions, its a bit ham fisted when it comes to ‘oh, there WILL be a sequel’, but its a good thing…because I definitely want more (and knowing its sitting in my Netflix queue is VERY exciting)
TL;DR 8.5/10. Nearly made me soil myself on many occasions – absolutely worth watching. Preferably not alone. But definitely with the lights off.
For more awesome reviews like this one, check me out on Horribly Hooched!