The tag line for PG-13 horror film Insidious is simply Insidious is… That might go down as one of the dumbest tag lines I have heard in a while. What IS Insidious? Well… it IS according to its makers. I wasn’t really sure what IS is, so I checked out Insidious the other night.
If I didn’t lose you in the aforementioned Insidious is comments above, Insidious pretty much plays out like your standard, run of the mill horror film. BoxOfficeBoredom.com’s horror expert, The Mike, described it as a “gateway horror” flick or the type of flick that gets young horror fanatics excited about things that go bump in the night. And not to steal his thunder, but he hits the nail right on the head. Everything about this film reminded me of those middle of the road PG-13 creepy films that attract budding horror buffs. In all honesty, I couldn’t be further from a horror buff or even a budding horror buff but films like Insidious are usually the type of horror I find myself gravitating to. But I didn’t know that going into Insidious simply because all I knew about the movie is Insidious is…
Anyhow, the goal here is not to trash the tag line for the entire review (although it probably deserves it). Insidious is the tale of a family who is haunted by strange demonic beings from the afterlife which a psychic refers to as “the further.” No matter where the family goes to try to escape them the problem follows leading to an issue where their son is in a mysterious coma and his mother is being tormented by visions of various creepy looking specters.
Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson take to the helm as lead actors in this film about the creepy things that live under your bed at night. It’s not that either of them do a bad job, it’s just that you really don’t care. Rose Byrne, an actress whom The Mike informed me is considered “hot” in horror circles, looks like a woman who is constantly nauseated. The extent of her acting experience is spent wondering around all doe eye and flush faced just waiting for the next undead creature to run past her in the background. Sorry horror circles but I just don’t see the attraction here. Patrick Wilson takes on the male lead role and to be honest he’s just a person that grates on me. I can’t really get behind him when he a fatherly character because to me he seems like such an arrogant, irritating person. It’s not the character he plays, it’s just Patrick Wilson. If I was told that Patrick Wilson adopts kittens and visits orphans in his spare time, I wouldn’t be surprised; He’s probably a very nice guy. However to me the look he pervades is “jerk.” In other words, he works well playing the “other boyfriend” you hate in romantic comedies. Wilson tries his best in Insidious with the material but frankly I’m not sure that I can make an accurate judgement on if he achieved anything in this film.
I think my biggest problem with Insidious was the way that the film utilized things only to advance the plot and then quickly dismissed them. The biggest point in question was the family unit itself. At the beginning of the film we have 3 kids that consist of a baby and two boys whom we are going to say are about 8 years old for argument purposes. One of the boys ends up in coma and the visitors from “the further” seems to gravitate around him. As for the other two kids they are are there as plot devices. We get to see the baby for the first 1/2 hour up until the plot device of demonic voices in the baby monitor has passed. Then suddenly, we forget about the baby. The second brother is there to drive home a plot point by telling his Mom that he doesn’t like it when his comatose brother gets up and walks around in his sleep. And then as quickly as he arrived he exits stage right. They never mention them again and get all tied up with mother and father trying to get their son away from “the further” and the demons who are leading him there. I hate to be the bearer of bad news family from Insidious, but when you were focusing on comatose son, the REST OF YOUR FAMILY wandered away!
Secondly, Insidious believes that that Insidious is…intense string music. From start to finish we get very intense string music every time that something just might happen. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that it adds to a creepy vibe, but this film over uses it way too much causing you to care very little by the time “the string music” introduces you to a true and true horror scene. Insidious is the little boy who cries wolf of horror movies. It’s constantly building to something, and is trying way too hard to keep you tense and on the edge of your seat.
Last but not least we are faced with dealing with the strange creatures from “the further.” Sure they were creepy in a bad costume contest kind of creepy, but to me less is more. I’d much rather be creeped out by a little girl running around the house and giggling, or a black shadow figure on the wall. But instead Insidious sets its mind on showing you these visitors, and unfortunately they lack originality. We get a vision of what looks to be a Michael Myers wannabe (Halloween films), A very pale looking Snape (Harry Potter films) and what seems to be Darth Maul (Star Wars Epsiode 1). In fact, I questioned how in the world they didn’t get sued for using Darth Maul’s likeness in the film. That’s when I realized that Insidious is…probably not watched by George Lucas; So at least for now, they are safe. The rest of the visitors all follow that demented circus theme, meaning they wear too much make up, smile awkwardly and make jerky sudden movements. As a whole, I guess it sends a few chills up your spine, but I think Insidious could have done more with a lot less.
To be fair, Insidious had its moments. I wasn’t totally turned off by the film, and despite its many flaws I still had flashes of enjoyment by watching it. I was creeped out at moments, I laughed at others and I questioned the logic behind most everything in the film. Yet I found myself not wanting to gouge my eyes out with a spork either. What I liked about Insidious is quite possibly what horror buffs hate about it. Insidious is…a movie. It’s not torture porn-esque like many modern horror films are. I didn’t have to sit and watch a demented doctor saw off some one’s arm with a dull butter knife and then make the victim eat his own brain while the doctor constructs a human spider with 21 human arms. There wasn’t a series of elaborate traps that would poke spikes into your eyes, or tear your flesh off if you didn’t tear your fingernails out with a tweezers. It was just a film that tried to be creepy without being bloody and violent. Despite knowing the intentions of Insidious, I can also recognize though that it didn’t quite achieve all its goals. Insidious is…a creepy movie. Insidious is…moderately entertaining at best. Insidious is…probably not worth your time.