Insidious - 4 stars
1.Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects 2.Treacherous; crafty
You might want to add a third definition to that title clarification that states that it’s also a movie that will shred your nerves to the very core with its pant Malteser producing things that go bump in the night.
Producer Oren Peli was the brainchild behind the last genuinely unsettling horror experience when he made 2009’s Paranormal Activity for about twenty pence, and he clearly knows how to get under the audiences skin because his influence is here for all to see with this brilliant haunted house horror that melds the best aspects of that CCTV chiller, throws in a little Poltergeist, and tops it off with a sprinkle of Guillermo Del Toro aesthetics. It is a horror in the grandest tradition of the genre, the complete antithesis of director Wan’s own Saw franchise, with its increasingly lamentable and tiresome torture porn.
Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) are your typical all American family; three sprogs, well-paid jobs, good looks. This idyllic lifestyle has just been relocated to a new house, but before you can say “Amityville”, strange noises are heard in the attic, whispers over the baby monitor, and then their young son Josh falls into an inexplicable coma that doctors cannot diagnose. Without divulging what has actually happened, it’s safe to say that the family are going to have to go to hell and a little bit further in order to save Josh, and you’re going with them.
Insidious plays things old school, but its genius lays in the fact that it can still wring tension and relief in such a manner that you’ll ignore scare devices that you’ve seen countless times before.
With a Suspiria style soundtrack it lulls you into a false sense that what you’re about to watch could be kitsch, before unleashing devastating glimpses of faces behind mesh curtains, corridor dwelling maidens, and dancing children, the thought of which sends shivers down a rarely troubled spine.
The film does switch tone about two-thirds of the way through, which may alienate some viewers, but what does remain consistent is a wonderful sense of humour, particularly when the “Ghostbusters” are called and arrive in the shape of a couple of bickering geeks. The final third, without giving anything away, spills over into the fantastical, yet still remains entertaining with its ideas and execution, mainly thanks to the presence of a genuinely freakish bogeyman and a family you’re rooting for.
Importance of characters to care about is paramount to any horror, so its thanks in no small part to Byrne and Wilson that we are given a couple who deal with their son’s crisis in contrasting and realistic fashions, allowing us as an audience a barometer on which to deal with our own “oh you wouldn’t do that” hang-ups.
Whether or not you think it follows through on the fantastic set-up will be a matter of personal taste, but by the time you come around to making your mind up you’ll be emotionally drained and more concerned about how you’re going to remove your nails from the chair arm.
Here's a link to Total Film's 3 star review of Insidious
. Added by Liz. Thanks.