The thing is, I’m prone to an over-active imagination which seems to get amplified particularly in my nightmares! So with that in mind I always use my own Scare-O-Meter to judge just how frightening a movie is. The preceding evening I’d seen a TV clip related to vampires which must have lasted all of 30 seconds, but the ensuing nightmare involved me being chased by vampires, finding I could high kick and fly kick like I’d done it my whole life and somehow end up in a underground vault with no way to escape! So, I was well prepped to watch this movie, having fought off imaginary vampires!
The whole cinema was steeped in near enough total darkness and as we made our way blindly to the auditorium, there was a haunted house feel to it. I’d already started getting sweaty palms, hunched shoulders and the urge to grab onto my husband and let him protect me from the spookiness about to ensue! ‘Oooo’ I thought, this is going to be one scary movie!
The introductory credits gave off a creepy vibe, to be followed by the title in big bold blood-red letters, accompanied by screeching (and annoying) music; which actually reminded me of Psycho a little. But the whole thing went on for far too long and looked like it was striving too hard to attain high levels of ‘the fear factor’. My shoulders had already relaxed!
We are introduced to a young couple played by Patrick Wilson (Josh Lambert) and Rose Byrne (Renai Lambert), moving into their new home with their three small children. At the outset everything appears normal, apart from the demon face mask hidden somewhere deep in the house that the camera glides us towards, a set of books that appear on the floor after having been stacked on the bookshelf by Renai and the camera panning to the mysterious grandfather clock. We’re thus led to believe that the house is haunted, however these visual allegories don’t seem to tie up with anything in the movie at all; just references to how disjointed this screenplay is.
This ‘normal’ family is thrown into disarray when Dalton (middle child), played by Ty Simpkins goes into an inexplicable coma and then when chilling episodes ensue, all fingers inevitably point to demonic malice at play. I would have preferred it if these unsettling moments throughout the movie were just a little bit more believable. A perfect example is when Renai hears a man’s voice in her baby monitor. She stands there for about two whole minutes listening to who is in her baby’s room until the voice crescendos to an angry demand, at which point she drops the monitor and goes rushing to the room where her daughter is crying. Not realistic; most normal people would instinctively run to protect their baby and get the hell out of the house! Scenes like this throughout the movie ease the sense of terror that the director is trying to summon in the audience, to effectively make them ineffective!
It also didn’t feel like there was enough of an introduction to the supporting cast to make us feel like they were an integral part of the direction the movie was taking. In particular, I didn’t realize that Barbara Hershey was in fact Josh’s mother until she took out his childhood photos to explain the spirits and ‘The Further’ to him (which incidentally looked like even I could have reproduced with just a torch under my chin!). And I won’t even comment on the ghost-busting Mormon duo and the halloween-esque evil spirits…
I had high hopes for Insidious seeing as James Wan directed Saw, one of my favourite movies. But halfway through watching the movie (around the time the plot fell to pieces), I also remembered he was responsible for Paranormal Activity…then it made sense why the whole auditorium was laughing at the ‘scary’ bits, along with that re-appearing hoofed devil! This movie is full of cheesy, been there done that horror moments that surprise rather than scare. After the first couple of jump out of your seat moments, you know when the next one is coming by the screechy music that preludes it! The scariest part is that the movie is just way too predictable, but tries really hard to be so different with twists that never really seem to come together to make much of an impact. The James Wan formula is waning!
The Scare-O-Meter wasn’t even trembling!
Insidious is in cinemas 6th May 2011.
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins
Runtime: 103 min