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Insidious (2010)


“It’s not your house that’s haunted. It’s your son.”

James Wan’s latest horror enterprise is surprisingly terrifying and simply (using this overused adjective for the first time) creepy.

As a lover of the horror genre since before I could read, it is my pleasure to announce that I have finally found a modern horror film that truly made me check every room in my house before I went to bed.

I must stress the importance of watching this film knowing as little about it as possible. As always with my reviews, I’ll make sure not to give away plot points and importantly for a horror film, won’t divulge the scary moments.

Although generally innovative, Insidious opens with a formulaic narrative arc – an attractive, young family move in to a new home in the suburbs where they hope their dreams will come true.  Josh (Patrick Wilson, Hard Candy), Renai (Rose Byrne, Bridesmaids) and their three small children are still unpacking when things go more than bump in the night. As the nerve-jangling events occur rather early in the film, there’s still time for us horror fans to decode what’s going on. A few standard jumps here and there, some loud noises, and yes, you can tell that this is (at first) a very commercial horror film made by the guy who made Saw.

But what happens after these initial horror clichés is actually rather brow-furrowing, when verbalised. Insidious had me when it decided to combine the evil of ‘Nether World’ with an infant. A baby!

One scene of the film features a baby of only a few months old. Here, even on my second viewing of Insidious, I shouted at the screen – “YOU LEAVE HER ALONE! PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE!” and I realised that, of course, I had been sucked into the story completely. The last time I shouted at a screen was when I watched Martyrs (2008) a magnificent cinematic feat – but, more about Martyrs in another post. So the next time you think about having children, try and think about how you would feel if you saw a black-clad man leering over your baby’s cot. You think about that. I will say that my creepiest scene is the constant wail of Josh and Renai’s burglar alarm; just wait for it.

Insidious is not your typical home invasion, haunted house horror film. In fact, it is rather cleverly far from it. Unfortunately of course, the film needs to meet a certain level of action and in doing so, plays the “suspension of reality” card. With such a fine middle of a film in terms of plot, acting and suspense-building, it would be hard to meet these standards. The very, very end however, did surprise me and simultaneously, break my heart a tiny bit.

Final Verdict

6/10

Pros

  • Genuinely creepy moments
  • Some comic relief from two competing astrophysicists
  • Good ending
  • Interesting stories of “other worlds”

Cons

  • At some points eye-rollingly bizarre and off-balance
  • Minor plot holes that really did annoy me

If you’re easily frightened of scary faces and voices, Insidious will terrify you. If you’re looking for a thrilling ride with some great moments of suspense and storytelling, Insidious could be the horror film you’ve been waiting for. I know I came away feeling very surprised, impressed and after all these years – satisfied that finally, I could go to bed worrying about whether I would be attacked in my sleep.

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