Movie Review: Insidious

If you can’t tell, I’m on a bit of a horror/demon kick.  I can’t even say that I’m a huge horror fan.  I love the horror from the 80’s – Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street… but I’m not fond of many of their sequels.  Maybe it is the cold weather months that puts me into a funk and I gravitate towards this type of material… either way I finally caught up to James Wan’s smash-hit Insidious.

Made for $1 million, the film grossed over $100 million.  No matter how you cut it, that is a monster hit.  And Wan is now behind two of those – as the architect behind the Saw series.  This was a real film, with no horror gimmicks, so I thought there had to be something behind this in terms of quality.

It’s a well-made film in just about every regard. The lighting is moody and sharp, the sound is done well (particularly the creepy lullaby that keeps popping up) and the acting is all solid.  But for some reason the film just fell flat with me.  I was interested throughout, but there was almost no emotional impact or connection where there should have been.  I think maybe because I never felt that the stakes were all that high.  Or maybe I didn’t get to know this family at the beginning, especially Dalton.

And the directing was good – but that is it – good.  Some moments that could have truly been scary, like any time we saw the demons or malevolent entities, just kind of came and went.  Even when Patrick Wilson goes to the ‘further’ and is battling the scary looking entity, we are at arm’s length.  I was never on the edge of my seat.  And the same for the demon, who could have really been horrifying. It was all plastic. I never felt he was ever in real danger. He kept saying ‘you’re not real’, and it sunk in for me.  Okay – they’re not real.

Although this contradicts with the ending of the film.  The ending itself, as a contained 5 minute thing, was cool… but ultimately didn’t make much sense. We see the demon/entity floating away from him as he tells her to beat it… but then he comes out of it and he’s possessed by her. Even killing someone.  How?  How did it take over his body so easily when he was putting up such a great fight? They couldn’t take over Dalton’s body and the kid was chained up by a demon. It kills me when you spend 90 minutes of a film buying into their logic and world and then they tear it down in the last 5 minutes.

I mentioned the acting and just want to point out that I’ve come to really respect Patrick Wilson as an actor.  He takes on cool movies, such as Little Children, Hard Candy and films like this.  And he can play this role with ease.  Rose Byrne I’m still not sold on.  She was unwatchable in X-Men: First Class.  Abhorrently terrible. Here she was okay.  So I’m split with her still. But she’s pleasant to look at.  And where most actresses could have given performances that would have made me want to claw their eyes out, she is somewhat understated here.  As understated as you can be when you’re losing your mind and your kid is in a coma.  But she never hit the level of ‘bitch’ that I was expecting – thankfully.

In the end, this was okay.  But I was just thinking to myself, especially in the ‘further’, how much better would this be with Guillermo Del Toro directing?  Or someone that can really amp up the scares and also bring something like that to life.  I guess I’ll keep wondering…

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