ELISE: Leave this vessel! Leave this vessel!
That blasted final act! It’s an issue that has plagued supernatural horrors for most of this decade — decent films with effective chills that are dampened by illogical or downright silly final acts. Unfortunately, Insidious is yet another one, and is unable to maintain the downright spookiness of its initial promising set-up.
Having just moved into their new house, the Lambert family soon begin to experience spectral shenanigans after the eldest son falls into an undiagnosable coma. Distressed mother Renai Lambert, played by Rose Byrne on fine form, begins to see and hear things that go bump in the night. Meanwhile her hubby (Patrick Wilson), also distressed, favors late nights at work rather than face the situation concerning his comatose son. I’ve always been a fan of Patrick Wilson’s work, he’s such a bankable actor, and here he’s no different, he doesn’t falter once, not even when the script derails into absurdity.
Indeed, strong and dependable performances are what immediately lure you into an admittedly jump-filled, nail grinding ride. Director James Wan (of Saw fame) then leads you through creaky corridors and dark, eerily lit bedrooms before unleashing all manner of ghostly types on you. There are very rarely any cheap scares, at least not starting out. Every frame is catered to throw you off balance and play with your expectations. The sound effects also help generate some serious heart-pounding moments. At this point, Wan seemed to have everything under control.
Without spoiling anything for you, this film will test your threshold for the supernatural when things take a more mystical route and everything begins to unravel. A film that was initially taut and clever, as well amusing in parts, becomes too far-fetched for its own good, sacrificing the emotional hooks that made the film so engaging in the first place. Suddenly it becomes nothing more than a load of cheap frights and a lot of OTT ideas thrown at the screen simultaneously.
But when the film is good, it’ll have you on high alert. It toys with your expectations and throws out some generic scares followed by some incredibly intense “boo”s that seem to take an age to attack your senses. It’s also not afraid to just lay out some unsettling imagery or a brief glimpse of a demonic entity that just sticks with you — kind of as a heads up, this is what’s in store for you next. From dead children to weird lookin’ hooved demons, Insidious doesn’t just stick to one unfriendly ghost, there’s an entire roster to hide from.
Insidious does have a lot going for it. It’s a surprisingly old-school horror movie with minimal blood-letting and ample shocks, a formula I wasn’t expecting from this director (and writer). But as a whole, it doesn’t quite work. The explanation given for all of these ghastly goings on is extremely underwhelming and very hard to swallow, in what is a lazy, headache inducing, and above all silly resolution.
BUY IT HERE | WATCH THE TRAILER
Written by: Leigh Whannel | Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Andrew Astor, Lin Shaye.
US Release Date: April 1, 2011