ByShad Allen Scott, writer at
I've watched tons of horror movies, it's my favorite genre, so a horror blog just seems to make sense
Shad Allen Scott




Awesome!!! Sorry for using the same opening as the last ‘Film vs. Digital’ post, it was just too darn good to not open the actual INSIDIOUS review without it (if you recall the trailer for INSIDIOUS, it kept flashing the same message). Tonight I will be seeing INSIDIOUS CHAPTER THREE, and I gotta say I am very, VERY, excited. But I figured before I post my inevitable review on INSIDIOUS CHAPTER THREE, I would review the first two films in the serious. So here we go, INSIDIOUS.

The first thing that strikes me about INSIDIOUS is that, as far as originality goes, it is a strange beast. By that, I mean, it’s sort of a three tiered film. It has two MAJOR plot twists during the middle chunk of the film.

First, it begins as old-hat haunted house genre. The family moving into their new house and experiencing creepy creepiness. At first I was thinking “Well…nothing new here”, even though as a haunted house film goes, it’s not that bad in tier one. It also includes a HUGE scare that I’ve only seen in THE BABY’S ROOM before (available in the SIX FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE COLLECTION. I posted a video review of it several posts ago). Plus, tier one builds up tension really well for the rest of the film.

Second, it turns into an old-hat possession film. The switch did catch me off guard, which is a good thing. Also, the switch was done fairly seamlessly. Although the thing that makes the possession angle fresh is that the kid wasn’t possessed…yet, but that dead people were waiting to possess him as soon as they could. “It’s not the house that’s haunted. It’s your son”. With that, we come to the second plot twist.

The third tier is—as far as I know—pretty damn original. We have astral projection, and a land of the dead called ‘The Further’. WHAAAAAAAAAT!?!?! That’s new to me, and to the majority of audience members that saw INSIDIOUS. We learn that ‘The Further’ is this world on top of ours where the dead (perhaps only the bad ones like murderers, rapists, and thieves go) wander, searching for a way to live again. If they find an empty vessel, they can possess it, and live again. All this exposition (and it is a lot for mid-film purposes) comes from Elise, a powerful psychic (?) who knows the problem, and hopefully how to fix it. She is joined by her two techies (who may as well be a bickering, old, married couple) Specs (played by Leigh Wannell who wrote INSIDIOUS) and Tucker. This is the part of the movie that I was practically jumping up and down, I was so impressed with what the film had done. It’s progression from a cliché, to something original (although there are SOME shadows of POLTERGEIST (1982) had blown my mind and gave me a horror-watching experience I hadn’t had in a long time.

The cast is just superb in INSIDIOUS, led by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as a married couple whose son (Ty Simpkins) is in—what they think is—a coma, but when weird stuff starts happening, along with full-blown spectral visitation (scary visitations) they soon learn there is something much more frightening at work with their son. Both Wilson and Byrne are well written as full-fledged characters, we delve into their motivation and the obstacle between them (that obstacle being Byrne thinks the house is haunted and Wilson refuses to believe). Even in his forced skepticism he is still more than willing to value his family over everything, as even though he doesn’t believe, when his family does believe he agrees to move houses to something hopefully not haunted.

However, it’s the paranormal hunting trio that steal the show. Leigh Wannell plays Specs, because he writes himself a role for seemingly all his projects with director James Wan (THE CONJURING, SAW, DEAD SILENCE). Angus Sampson plays Tucker, the real ‘techie’ of the two, whereas Specs domain is writing down or drawing communication with the dead as whispered to him from Elise. These two characters are the lovable dimwits—no, that’s too harsh, they’re more like the lovable dinguses. They are the comic relief of the film, and this film is so suspenseful and scary (even scared me, wicked good, a time or two) that comic relief is a must. Their leader is Elise, played by Lin Shaye, who finally has a chance to shine bright after bit parts here and there (most notably for me is a flight attendant in SNAKES ON A PLANE, and the hall monitor from the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET). She’s direct and to the point, uncompromising, and not afraid of telling it like it is. She’s also a psychic that can communicate with the dead and with the dead in ‘The Further’. She also delivers a few truckloads of exposition when she appears about halfway through the film.

After Elise tells the family what is going on in their house, she says that Astral Projection can be passed down through generations, and so it’s possible that if the kid has it, then Patrick Wilson has it too. Something snaps within Wilson and he kicks the paranormal investigators out. Then there’s this beautiful and heartbreaking scene where Wilson looks at a series of drawings in his son’s room that suggest (in crayon and child concepts) that at night he can fly around (grown up term: astral project). At which point he tears up, realizes that it’s the best reasoning behind what’s happening, and the next day he invites Elise, Specs, and Tucker back. This scene with the pictures is just heartbreaking, but it was so very effective because it was done in complete silence. Wilson wasn’t narrating his feelings (as everyone will be doing in INSIDIOUS CHAPTER THREE, by the way, which is lazy for a writer and a director. Hint: The writer and director are on and the same for INSIDIOUS CHAPTER THREE).

Here’s some fun facts. The Lipstick Demon is played by their sound designer, or score composer…one of those if I remember correctly. And the lady in grey was played, by a man in a dress and lots of ghostly make-up. This was done not thinking of the sequel in mind. But when you read my review of the sequel, you’ll notice that these things they did in INSIDIOUS does carry over to the sequel in a major way. Good for them for turning necessity into inspiration. That’s pretty awesome.

Overall, I love this film and I have no problem screaming that from the rooftops, it was different, it was a ride, it had characters you cared about, but best of all, it was ACTUALLY scary. The ability to do all these things in around 90 minutes? High on the WOW-factor. I highly suggest you watch this one with the volume loud and the room dark. Just remember…INSIDIOUS IS…


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