Film Review – Insidious
When the Lambert family move into their new house they find their world shaken when their son falls into a coma. Under emotional pressure, things are compounded by apparently supernatural events that force the family out of their home. However, it is clear that something has followed them and their situation is more desperate than they could have ever possibly realised.
Insidious is the type of horror movie you see all too rarely these days. Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell (Saw) have put together film a that is creepy, scay fun with shivers and jumps aplenty. It’s a proper old school rollercoaster horror film that wears its heart (and influences) firmly on its sleeve.
It doesn’t start well to be honest, the first 10 seconds are some of the most risible I’ve seen and I was worried that I’d be in for a bumpy ride. However as soon as I started watching the title credits closely, my interest was piqued by some interesting subtleties.
The premise is simple enough, cute young family, tragedy (and a hint of something before the story even starts), and things that go bump in the night. There is an initial feeling of creepiness that builds to some excellent jump scares but Wan is clever enough not to overuse these. Even when we know they’re coming (and at several points it’s pretty obvious), they still tend to catch the audience off-guard. Thrroughout the screening there were gasps and screams followed by embarrassed giggles.
The film doens’t rely just on scares though, the tension builds up beautifully and rewards the observant viewer. (At one point I whispered out loud to poor Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) “how did you not see that…”). As the film gets darker and psychic Elise (Lin Shaye) is called in, there’s some beautifully light touches of geeky comedy with her assistants Tucker and Specs (played by Whannell himself). Where everything has been so sombre before this shouldn’t work, but instead we relish the light relief before being plunged into the darkness once again.
One of the reasons it all works so well is that the cast play it perfectly straight. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are exceptional as the young couple, while Barbara Hershey as Wilson’s mother and Lin Shaye as Elise add real grit and vim to their performances. The movie references other horror flicks such as Poltergeist, The Shining, classic Hammer and even.. Jeepers Creepers? A one point there is an apparent nod to Kubrick that was so perfect I actually clapped my hands in glee. (I am aware this makes me an uber-nerd. I don’t really care).
This isn’t a film for every horror fan. The lightness of tone in places, the silliness of some of the jump moments, the frankly terrible soundtrack may be too off-putting for some. Certainly you have to buy into the whole thing and allow yourself to be carried away. In that respect it reminded me very much of Ghost Stories and like that play, I came out of Insidious throughly entertained and extremely happy.
Do see this at the cinema, as movies like this always work best when everyone is along for the ride.
Ususally I’d post trailer here but as it spoilers a couple of exceptional moments, I’ll refrain.
Insidious opens in the UK on April 29th.