(The gist: I needed a good horror movie to cleanse my palette, and Insidious definitely satisfied that demand. The movie is as good as I have come to expect from the likes of Leigh Whannell and James Wan. Insidious creeped me out on a deep and unnerving level, and I loved it.)
After the mediocrity of Home Sweet Home (last week’s selection for my new to me horror endeavor), I decided to finally watch Insidious because I was relatively certain it would be a sure thing. I was even willing to pay for it.
And it was totally worth it.
Holy shit, Insidious is effectively creepy. Jump scares, haunting imagery, suspense. It is all there, and it all worked on me. It was so successful, in fact, that I was driven from multi-tasking and instead started holding my viewing partner’s hand (also my husband).
Insidious follows the Lambert family. When they move into a new house, their son, Dalton, falls into an explained coma. Renai, the mother, continues to see strange visions and manifestations that seem to increase, even when they move into a new house.
Insidious begins by portraying every day, mundane horrors. Like a baby who will not stop crying or feeling trapped in a house as a stay-at-home parent. This evolves into the horror of a sick child, especially a child afflicted with something both unexplained and seemingly incurable. This terror then progresses to the actually scary, traditionally horror elements.
Noises on a baby monitor have always creeped me out beyond measure. Seeing or hearing something terrifying over the device was a nagging fear of mine the entire time my children were babies. This is in Insidious.
The idea of something unidentified in your home is terrifying. The idea of something unidentified in your home with your children is even more frightening. The idea of something unidentified inside your children is petrifying. This is in Insidious.
Insidious capitalizes on a myriad of fears, exploits each individually and combines them into the amalgamation of the film. Somehow the balance is perfect, and the fear and suspense comes at you from every viewing angle. The imagery is just so poignant and terrifying. It lingered with me after the scene, after the movie, into my dreams.
To me, it seems like Insidious starts with many traditional horror concepts and images. In particular, it seems to pay a good amount of homage to Poltergeist. However, it branches out beyond these initial beginnings, taking these common themes to new levels. Possession is made creepier with a child; a séance is made more unnerving with a gas mask and strobe lighting.
When I was at the Stanley Film Festival, we screened The Nightmare, a documentary about sleep paralysis. I vaguely remembered that the film cited movies like Insidious as being horror influenced by the symptoms of the disorder. In watching Insidious after this documentary, I could definitely see the influence. And I can also say that it is very effectively scary.
Insidious is not the perfect horror movie. At times, it flirted with my threshold of disbelieve. I find that ghosts and demons and the like are frightening in their subtlety. Once completely revealed, they lose some of their power. However, the movie so successfully creeped me out that I loved it.
And the sequels are now next up on my to-watch list.