Director: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins
I wasn’t particularly excited for ‘Insidious’ when I went to see it, after having seen so many awful horror films in the last decade, I’ve almost given up hope for finding a good one. I really didn’t think this film was going to be any better, even though it had received some solid praise from critics and fans whom I respect. I simply figured it was over hyped, overly violent and bound to disappoint. Turns out, I was completely wrong, and this movie transcended all of my expectations. ‘Insidious’ may not be the perfect film, but it is a big step in the right direction for modern horror and I just hope others follow the example set by director James Wan in the future.
The film is about a family who recently move into a new home. Their son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), soon after falls into a coma-like state which he cannot be woken up from. Whilst in this state, there is an increasing number of creepy events, and figures lurking within the house. When things escalate, the family decides to bring in a psychic and her paranormal team, in hopes of protecting young Dalton from these evil spirits. The psychic comes to realise that the child itself is the one who is haunted and his soul must be rescued from the evil lurking in this alternate dimension known as “The Further”. After exhausting all efforts to save the child, Dalton’s father, Josh (Patrick Wilson), decides to venture into this supernatural dimension and try to rescue his son from the evil forces who hope to keep him there.
The film may be good, but it has a few major missteps. Firstly, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the acting of Patrick Wilson as Josh. I mean, he was good as far as horror films go, but that’s not saying much. Throughout the first half, the film uses a crying baby to ramp up the tension and create a stressful ordeal for the family and viewers alike. It’s a trick to make everything a little more uncomfortable, because few things irritate or bother people more than a crying infant. The first act builds suspense wonderfully, but it is the the second half which is disappointing, as it goes down a more generic road. Whilst I understand the desire to set up a thought-provoking ending, I found it to be one of the weaker aspects of this film. Like many horror movies, sadly ‘Insidious’ at times, became unintentionally funny; it would attempt to be scary, but for whatever reason it came off as comedic.
There was plenty to enjoy about the film though. I really liked Rose Byrne and Ty Simpkins when they were on screen and I actually cared about these characters and wanted them to survive this traumatic event. The movie is scary without the use of excessive violence, instead opting for the concept of humans being possessed by demons and evil spirits, which is truly terrifying. The film does a great job building suspense, and the jump scares are used sparingly and when implemented, feel as though they are appropriate for that moment. This film can unnerve you and get into your head without relying on the all too familiar cheap shock value that we see most of the time in horror movies nowadays.
‘Insidious’ provides a rare taste of quality and respect for the horror genre. It has a great creep factor, above-average to good acting throughout, and focuses on creating a story and characters to root for rather than the tired, gore-fest approach. If you are looking for a legitimately scary movie, with a great concept, this is a film I recommend. ‘Insidious’ is far from perfect, but as far as horror goes, it is one of the better films of the last 25 years.