James Wan, Film District, 2011.
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye and Barbara Hershey.
Genre: Horror, Thriller.
Question: How many times do you watch a movie, expect it to be scary and then it does not live up to it's expectations? Well, for me - not that often because horror movies really scare me without really having to try all that hard. But I watched Insidious tonight and it started out good (scary) and then sort of waded into the ridiculous.
My son decided one day he wanted to watch a scary movie and being the fantastic mother I am, I at first freaked out, because I am a big wimp when it comes to the horror genre, I complied. Then I asked him which movie he would like to see (secretly hoping it wasn't too scary). "Insidious. My friends keep talking about it and how much they liked it." My thoughts were not good ones only because my son's friends are 12 years-old who appear to handle the scare factor okay, unlike moi.
Insidious started out really well, as scary movies go. There was little dialogue and not a ton of overly scary music playing which made the story more plausible. The family, who had just moved into their new home, portrayed a "real" family. A mother of three, who stays home and works on her music when she can, and a husband who at first appears caring and kind. The mother, played by Rose Byrne, did a good job showing what it is really like to be a mom - hair up, no make-up, kids needs come first and when any time is left over - time for herself. And more importantly, she is home all day long and multitasking: cooking, cleaning, unpacking, organizing, taking care of the children, etc...and then soon witness to odd happenings.
The house starts to show signs of a haunting, simply and subtly at first. This is where 'this' mother started to get pretty scared (and pathetic). By this point my son is also scared but we struggled on-wards with the story.
Noises in the house increase, items move on their own and a glimpse or two of a ghost pops up just to make my heart beat faster. Then one of the children in the house slips into a coma, and I am intrigued with where the film-makers are taking the story. Although soon after there is more dialogue and something shifts. I found the cadence or the rhythm of the acting falter, and even thought it was bad at a point or two. But I brushed that aside because what worked in the beginning came back: lack of talking, more bumps in the night and an increase of sudden glimpses of more ghosts. Then there is another shift as the story unfolds more.
Slowly I started to recall a film that scared the bejesus out of me when I was 12 years-old: Poltergeist. By the middle of the story it was very hard to NOT compare this movie to the haunted house classic. There weren't any clowns, or fuzzy TV screens or scary looking children-eating trees, but when a woman and her crew show up at the house to discover and document the activity and why the son was in a coma, it was virtually impossible not to see a connection. This is where the movie lost me and I found the rest of the story insincere. I was no longer terrified but bored. It did have a twist at the end but even that didn't scare me.
So, what did I learn here today? Well, it's hard to create a horror story that is really scary, and that perhaps I am not a big chicken after all. Go ahead and rent Insidious because I do think the first half was good just don't expect greatness in the second half. Although one scene actually made me scream out loud suddenly. The editor of this film was brilliant in their way of increasing the scare factor in this film.
My favorite part: That's hard to say since this was a horror - but the editing was really well done.
My least favorite part: That I was almost forced to make a comparison to another movie.
Length: 103 minutes
Review: 4 out of 10
P.S. Alright I have to confess one thing. I said Insidious was not all that scary while watching. However, when I went to bed, after writing the majority of this review, I had a sudden memory of one of the scary elements.Then I realized I AM a chicken as I remembered the light switch was 12 feet away and I was too scared to get out of bed to turn it on.
Click on film poster below to watch films: