Thursday 12 May 2011


The Insidious Zone

Insidious US 2011
Directed by James Wan
Playing at cinemas now.

Warning: There are some spoilers in this one.

Okay then. And now on to Insidious.

After married couple Josh and Renai move from their new home because of a series of hauntings which seems to put one of their two young sons in a coma; the hauntings continue at their new dwelling and an expert in the paranormal (and her hilariously dead-pan assistants) advise the parents that it’s not the house that’s haunted but their comatose young son... who has gone off onto another astral plane and is being kept from returning to his body by various beings (including a demonic entity) who are trying to use his body to cross over into our dimension.

Hmmm.... if this sounds familiar then... well let’s call a spade a spade, it is. Take away the astral projection part of this little set up (with which you can leave the little boy in a physical form in our reality to give a slant to the old story) and you have what amounts to almost a remake in structure of Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist... and when I say a remake of Poltergeist, of course, I mean a remake of the original episode of The Twilight Zone, Little Girl Lost, which Poltergeist seems to have blatantly ripped off (in my humble opinion, okay?).

Little Girl Lost featured a daughter who slipped through a dimensional portal in her bedroom and her father has to go in to the portal attached to a life line, find her in the other world and then pull her out. And this is essentially what happens in Insidious because, when the husband Josh’s past catches up to him, it’s realised that he is the only one qualified to enter this “higher” plane of existence and rescue his son from the hostile and demonic entities that dwell in the dark recesses of this dimension... so a bit like Doctor Strange for amateurs then.

Insidious starts off really well and it’s got enough understanding of the way in which the scares in a horror film can be played and milked from the audience to actually deliver those scares and jumps that this kind of genre thrives on... despite this director’s directing and writing credits on the Saw franchise, this is not a gory movie concerned with body shock style disgust tactics, this is a genuine bona fide horror movie dealing with the cold hand of fear hovering just above your shoulder and then waiting until your guard is lowered before it taps you on that same shoulder and frightens you out of your skin.

In this respect... Insidious is a really good little horror movie.

It’s weaknesses, however, lay in the second half of the movie where the obvious premise is highlighted as being the root cause of the problem... that is to say, you’re already way ahead of the characters in the film as to what’s really going on and you can see the so-called final-twist of the movie a good half an hour or more before it comes to fruition... this is not good writing. But, to be fair to it, it does still maintain the kind of suspense and terror-grips-your-heart sense of dread through even this last half an hour and it’s the expertise in which the execution of a less than challenging story is handled that make Insidious worth watching on some level. I’m even going to forgive it the flash cut to the title of the movie which it delivers with an overblown, cheesy and atonal 1950s B-movie “sting” in the music... not once but twice in the movie.

Insidious is a quite good but extremely obvious horror movie which is worth seeing if you like the kind of lurking dread filled atmospheres that such bleak treasures can sometimes deliver and don’t mind ratcheting down your IQ a hundred or so notches and are prepared to ignore the familiarity of the storyline. It’s an enjoyable little horror flick, nothing more or less so... if, like me, you have a taste for this kind of cinematic dessert... catch it now while you can still see it with a large audience and watch them squeal and jump at the on-screen antics of a family under attack by supernatural forces.

If you're not a fan of the genre then this movie certainly won't cause you to become one, however. So if horror is not especially your bag, maybe don't bother with it.

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