21
Apr
11

Insidious? More like Ridicirous

a Primal Root written Review

Man, do I love a good ghost story. I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to ghost stories, haunted houses and supernatural tales in general, but that does not mean the idea of ghosts doesn’t creep me out. This is why I am so saddened that there are so few GREAT haunted house tales at the googaplex anymore.

They are a rarity.

Which is why I had moderately high hopes for Insidious, the latest film from director James Wan (First Red Flag) the director behind the original Saw and the still born Dead Silence. It is also from the producers of Paranormal Activity (Second Red Flag) . But, hey, the early reviews said it was something pretty spooky and the trailers had me curious so I figured I’d give it a go. So, my date and I curled up in our seats and waited for the scares.

"I am scared."

The story concerns a young married couple and their three youngsters who are living in an old, creaky, fire hazard home that’s obviously haunted from the second you lay your eyes on it. It’s also about twelve stories tall. The Dad (Patrick Wilson) is a school teacher who is never home and leaves his lovely songwriting, baby making, wife (Rose Byrne) home alone to deal with the supernatural happening. Early on their young son, (Ty Simpkins) falls down a ladder in the attic after his negligent parents allow him to wonder off in their death trap of a house. Of course, the kid goes into a pseudo coma that cannot be diagnosed and the haunting gets more severe. So they more to nice, boring, modern house…

And shit gets even worse.

The family calls in some paranormal investigators, psychics in gas masks and the whole things plays out like a pitch to Universal Halloween Horror Nights.

"I am concerned."

To my amazement the first half of this film did an okay job of delivering some genuine intrigue and a handful of jolts. But even as these scares were being delivered I couldn’t help but feel like there were gaping holes in the story here. Like there are entire reels missing from the story. The character development is left at establishing how everyone is related and their method of income. There’s really nothing else there for us to hold onto as far as knowing these characters. The exist, they are scared, and that’s all you need to know. And Dad’s a teacher. Okay, let’s move on.

There’s also a great example of missing film when Patrick Wilson sits on the front steps of the house with Rose Byrne as she voices her concern over the supernatural presence in their house. She tells stories of all these creepy things that have happened to her while Patrick Wilson is away at work…things we as an audience never saw. Why are you telling us about the creepy events when you could be, you know, SHOWING us these things? Isn’t that one of the first rules of screenwriting? Don’t tell us. Show us.

BUTT SEX!

But, overlooking these short falls, the movie does excel in creating some excellent nightmare imagery. This is  when ‘Insidious’ really cooks. When Rose Byrne goes to take out the trash and her record changes to a different song and as she looks in the window she sees a small figure dancing to the music a couple rooms away. Or when Patrick Wilson’s Mom, Barbara Hershey, describes a nightmare she had where she encounters a dark presence in their son’s room. All these images and the way they are filmed and presented feel exactly how nightmares do and it’s chilling stuff.

Sadly, the film faulters in it’s final act when ‘Insidious’ shows it’s cards. Patrick Wilson goes tot he other side and we are shown WAY too much of that supernatural world these creatures inhabit. Some things are so much more horrifying when left to the imagination. As Dad faces off against the Darth Maul looking, hoof footed menace who loves tip toeing through the tulips, you get the distinct feeling the flick has completely jumped the shark.  My date actually mentioned how much the second half felt like an ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ episode, and she was spot on. It’s as if James Wan wrote his ass into a corner and took the lazy way out. Rather than paying things off with scares it transforms into a snooze fest as the audience begins looking at their watches wondering when it will all come to an end.

How the audience looked during the second half od Insidious.

The filmmaker tries to pull off a twist ending like his previous films, but anyone who is aware of his penchant for ham handed twists will see this one coming a mile away, and it’s a face palmer of a way to end things. What started out modestly interesting ends in a flash of empty spook house tactics that are somewhat fun to look at but don’t really work when it comes to tapping into the psychology of those watching hoping to go home hoping for that thrill of the ghost story to still be with them when they turn out the light to go to bed…

Stay Trashy!

-The Primal Root


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