May 25, 2011
Abnormalities surround us. It seems to be life's way to stumble us upon "glitches". Couldn't this same concept apply directly to dreamscapes with a greater force of evil shadowing? James Wan's latest horror film, Insidious, attempts to salve the question, not with an answer, but with more questions. Being a fan of his earlier effort, Death Sentence, James Wan's keen eye for stark visuals and grain returns in Insidious but with less attention towards the grime and degeneracy but the sterility of a contemporary home setting. Turning the experience into a date movie of sorts, I tagged my ladyfriend along for the ride, for what I had hoped would at least be a thrilling, atmospheric take on hauntings. Paranormal films of the sort always seem to bore me. Flapping shutters and drapes dancing amidst light given off from a flickering flame is the concept. Insidious has defied the expectations of its stagnant wellspring and through a unique vision, supplied by Wan, unleashes a volley of consistent scares with some of the most alarming, disconcerting scenes of terror I have ever witnessed to this day. From the opening credits alone, trekking through a dimly lit house scored to screeching strings, I was mortified. When a single loathsome question returns, as it will time and time again, "what's the scariest movie you've ever seen?" - I now will have a fresh answer. Seated up there with select moments of Jacobs Ladder, The Mothman Prophecies, and the vagrant scene in Mulholland Drive, "Insidious is".
From the trailer, one surmises the boy to be a haunted vessel, which is a correct observation. It also serves as the tagline boasting the idea of a living being assaulted by spirits. Starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as the two tortured parents of a catatonic child, Insidious quickly sets up the structure of the important grieving parents. After falling through a ladder in a decrepit attic, Dalton passes off his concussion as nothing more and sets to slumber. When Dalton doesn't wake the next morning, the parents shamble to the hospital where doctors proceed to tell them that they don't exactly understand Dalton's condition. Cue the paranormal activities. What largely embodies the runtime of Insidious is seeping moments of dread that crawl across the screen. Sound plays an enormous part in providing chills. As mentioned before, wailing violins subtly scream during instances of duress. Barbara Hershey returns from her oppressive position as mommie dearest from Black Swan and adds empathy to the character pot, equating in one of the most shocking scares Insidious has to offer - during a sit down with the always-reluctant-to-believe father. The casting choice of Hershey was as if to conjure some of the magic seated in her incredible role in The Entity, and it works. Barbara Hershey was created to be haunted via screen and Insidious is the greatest love letter The Entity ever got, sans rape. Not even just for the comparable audible aesthetic of the two shocking films, Insidious jabs back with a story device of her knowing exactly what to do and claiming she's been through it before.
Before Insidious could possibly fry your circuitry with how intense the shocks are, James Wan makes a decision; a decision that almost ruined what was of the most frightful nature by morphing the finale of the film into something you'd expect in a M. Night Shyamalan picture post-Unbreakable. Mixing fantasy with the modern remnants of the roster of Thir13en Ghosts (personifying colored demons and phantoms), James Wan's Insidious starts harping the unreal, surreal elements of astral projection. Crossing thresholds of a misty nether, Patrick Wilson engages with spooky specters and demons that fancy the melodic neutered tunes of Tiny Tim - is the tune effective? Yes. All the while distracting? Of course. From here Insidious only gets worse and irredeemably silly. One can assume the scriptwriter himself suffered from a minor concussion as Insidious juggled terror so well only to fumble all of its hard work, spilling spherical shapes on hardwood floor. All is not poisoned, however. Insidious recovers its stance with a final hurrah, melancholic to the very core. When the proverbial day is done, Insidious stands with yet another recurring tool of horror; utilizing advantage against a mature demographic, their children, and making every sickly-sweet mother's toes curl against the auditorium floor. It is the same happenstance as my mother experienced when she watched Poltergeist all the years ago. Regardless of children being used as pawns in a small battle of good and evil and the various other contrived instances, Insidious is a fresh experiment in horror that proves there still are scares to be had. You might just have to strap your rain boots on to wade through the shit near the climax.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 11:41 AM
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