Insidious is a well done homage to the classic haunted house horror films of the ‘70s and ‘80s. And it’s undeniably one of the most jump inducing and unsettling horror movies released in years and years (the next closest would be last year’s Paranormal Activity 2). I kid you not. Watching this flick is a good workout for the all important core flinch muscles. And if you happen to see this movie with someone who gets slap-happy or grippy by nature, it might be wise to prepare yourself for the onslaught – by wearing some hockey gear.
Opening with a family of five moving into a new house, Insidious doesn’t appear to offer viewers anything new at first. The family is comprised of an obnoxious crying baby, two young boys and a wonderfully attractive couple. Books begin mysteriously falling off shelves and weird noises manifest themselves through the baby monitor. But even though this has all been done before (Poltergiest for example) the film comes across as fresh and unique in the modern horror landscape. It’s nice to see a flick that isn’t torture porn or found footage – in other words, a real scary movie.
Eventually, one of the sons messes around in the attic (don’t they always) and falls off of a ladder. This sends him into a coma-like state that dumfounds doctors. All his brain scans seem normal and batteries of tests reveal no brain damage. Whatever could be wrong with the little boy?
Eventually, the couple hires a psychic who sends over a couple ghost hunter types – who happen to be rather hilarious. The bumbling duo provides much needed comedic relief (exactly how big do they make flashlights?) in an otherwise very tense and nerve racking experience. My audience was so uptight and nervous by this point that I didn’t think we were gonna make it through the screening without an incident. People were literally trembling with fear.
The film is essentially genetically engineered to make unsuspecting folks jump. Notably, my arm hair was raised on no less than three occasions. And I probably jumped at least half a dozen times. Now, nothing can make a movie suck faster than a bunch of fake scares. Cats being thrown in front of the camera or other bullsh*t is offensive to intelligent audiences. It’s a technique that is typically used by films that are not scary as a way to try and inject some semblance of fright. It ALWAYS fails miserably. However, I am pleasantly surprised to say that Insidious does not use any fake jump scares. Every single one of them is completely legit (within the premise of the movie) – making it all the more terrifying.
As the plot thickens it may become a little hard to swallow for some audience members. Astral projection, other worlds and all sorts of weird paranormal philosophies are explored. It all works though and manages to stray away from the typical tropes of the genre to reveal a very clever and well-thought out script. Sure, it’s a tried and true formula, but it’s done ingeniously.
All-in-all, this is one helluva scary ride; especially considering the main antagonist looks like the result of a love-child between Darth Maul and Freddy Krueger.
Snore Factor: Z (One of the jumpiest movies I have ever seen)