Director: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye
Movie Rating: PG13
Plot Summary (By Clancy): A teacher, his wife, and three children have moved into a new house. They soon discover the squeaks, creaks, and things bumping around in the night are more malevolent than your average ghost. One of their sons eventually follows his sense of curiosity into the attic. He tumbles from a ladder only to wind up in a situation terrifying enough for a set of parents. The young boy is in an unexplainable coma. Jump forward three months… At this point what appear to be ghosts become making themselves known to the family. As the terror escalates they must look to an old family friend, a medium and her team of ghost hunters. Will they be able to exorcise the evil presence and save the young boys soul?
Since this is my first post for the Game Huntress Horror Movie Club (GHHMC), I want to start with a confession. In all honesty, I have a love-hate relationship with horror movies. As much as I try to separate the movies from reality, after every horror movie I watch I am terrified for days. I’m totally that person that will turn on the lights in the entire house just to get a drink of water at night, as if turning on the lights would actually protect me from the creatures that go bump in the night. Yet no matter how many nights I lose restful sleep after watching a horror movie, I’m always compelled to watch another. It’s a vicious cycle, but there is something so fascinating about the dark and the shadows that is so often the basis of horror movies that makes it hard for me to stay away. With that said, I’m looking forward to facing my deepest, darkest fears as a member of the GHHMC.
The moment I saw the Insidious trailer, I knew this would movie would be the stuff of nightmares. It had all the right elements to raise the hairs on the back of my neck: the creepy old house, the disturbingly eerie possessed-looking kid, and maniacal ghosts who seem content to slowly drive you insane with the usual ghost antics. I’m totally not ashamed to admit that if I was home alone at night I was very quick to change the channel when that commercial came on. After months of waiting for the movie to be released on DVD, I jumped on the chance to watch it because let’s face it I apparently like to torture my psyche by subjecting myself to these kinds of movies. So did Insidious live up to the hair-raising, fear-inducing movie I was anticipating from the trailer? Well the answer is yes and no.
So what worked? The masterful build up of suspense and tension accomplished in Insidious is a case in point that you can forego the gore that has become so common in ghost stories and still allow the audience to have a terrifying experience. The first part of film is very much a nod to the classic “Haunted House” genre that frightened me as a child. There were lots of dark corners where things may or may not be lurking. There were those creaky floor boards that send chills up your spine. Surprisingly even though I often anticipated those some random ghost hand to jump out of one place or another, I always managed to actually jump every time it did happen. I think in part what made these sequences so effective was the lack of music prior to them and then a sudden, jarring bang of piano notes right at the moment of the jump scare. In my opinion, the lack of score helped make these moments much more effective than trying to use the music to build the tension prior to the moment.
Sadly, the last part of the film lost me a little bit. At first, I was intrigued by the idea that Dalton was essentially having an out-of-body experience that left his body vulnerable to possession. This brought me back to that time when I was afraid to fall asleep for fear that Freddy Krueger would get me in my dreams. I mean you can’t NOT fall asleep forever! However, things started to take a turn for the ridiculous when you notice that the menacing demon after Dalton looks a heck of a lot like Darth Maul making the situation a little laughable at this point. Also, there are some things that started to not make sense after explanations for the strange occurrences started happening. Mainly, there seem to be lots of apparitions all over the house who seem to be a giant nuisance to the rest of the family rather than trying to make use of the fact that Dalton is a vessel through which they can live again (they must have not read their “How to be a ghost” manuals). Ultimately, I think part of the downfall of this later portion was this need to try to explain everything so as to wrap up the story in a neat little bow.
When it’s all said and done, all Insidious was a nice change of pace back to classic psychological horror or things that go bump in the night even if the ending didn’t quite have the same oomph that the film started with.
On a quick side note, check out 28 Weeks Later for a scene that still scares me to death every time I watch it. The characters in that film find themselves in a pitch black subway tunnel without any light source, save a small scope with infrared. I really get sucked into that scene and feel claustrophobic and frightened along with them. Every now and again they put the scope on this young girls face. The girl can only see pure black. I watch the blind look on her face in that scene and get so worked up with fear.
Alright, back to Insidious. Patrick Wilson plays the father. I will speak more about his character in the spoilers section. I know Wilson best from his role as Nite Owl in Watchman. I felt he was the perfect blend of “nerdy but muscular” and fit that role well. Almost like Clark Kent/Superman when Christopher Reeve played him. Here he works nicely against Byrne. You feel his concern for his family, but he also conveys a sense of overwhelming burden. I found myself becoming increasingly worried that his character would become the cliché asshole. Not based on his acting, but the actions of his character. Was he going to abandon this poor mother and children or accept the situation fight for them?
Eventually they bring in the medium, played by Lin Shaye. Full disclosure: I love Lin Shaye. Best known to me from Farrelly Brother movies like There’s Something About Marry. She also nailed the role as the overprotective mother in Detroit Rock City. If you are a fan of her and/or classic horror you are probably aware of her small role as the teacher in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. In Insidious Shaye plays the role nicely. She has a tint of that oddness and mystique that I remember from Zelda Rubinstein in Poltergeist. Just a touch mind you. You don’t quite know if this woman is for real or some con artist. When she finally does use her powers or knowledge Shaye does an excellent job. There is a tense scene that involves Shaye donning a gas mask during a séance. To me this was one of her most memorable scenes in the film. The situation in itself was creepy and Shaye helped emphasize that by her voice and body language. It was a nice take on that type of scene.
The ghost hunting team is well-played by Leigh Whannell (the films writer) and Angus Sampson. They bring an appropriate level of levity/comic relief to this high tension film. I find it really helps to get a breather before they go and punch you in the gut with another scare.
If you have any interest in astral projection I also recommend the 2009 album Crack the Skye, by progressive metal band Mastodon. A concept album that tells the story of a paraplegic who must astral travel in order to go anywhere. Much like in this film he is severed from his physical body, gets sucked into a wormhole, is put into Rasputin’s body, assassinated, then goes on an adventure with Rasputin’s soul, trying to get back to his body. It’s pretty metal. The video is for the second single from that record.
Thank you so much for your love and support! Follow me on twitter @GameHuntress or email me at email@example.com. I am still looking for one more person to join in on our Horror Edition Hit Me Up!
Also, you can find any of the videos you see here on YouTube and a big thank you to Google images for all the images you have seen today along with Imdb for the movie information!!
This is the Game Huntress signing off, and remember wherever there is XP or achievements I will be on the hunt.
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Randy Dickinson (@randy_wrecked)
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Do you like to stay up late at night playing on your favorite handled, PC or consoles? Do you ever feel like you have a hangover the next morning? Then boy I have a great podcast for you to listen to Video Game Hangover!! http://vghangover.com Be sure to click on the link to check out their site! One of my favorite things about this show is that Randy, D.J, and Paul talk about a wide range of gaming topics and each episode is different than the last. Highly entertaining! The guys each have their own viewpoints but even they don’t always agree on everything but they never railroad each other either for their opinions. (They might poke fun of each other at times however in a fun way!)
I would like to say thank you to Jaime (@Fun_Sized27 on twitter) for telling me all about Video Game Hangover! This show rocks and so do you! Thanks again
Hope you will go take a listen to this awesome podcast! Be sure you follow them on Twitter and even look them up on Facebook! I haven’t been listening for very long but this year I know that I will not miss another episode I may even try and listen to some of their back catalogue, hope you will do the same! Until next time, This is the Game Huntress signing off, and remember wherever there is XP or achievements I will be on the hunt.
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Had a fun conversation with John Thanks again for having me on your show!!
Howdy Good Neighbor and welcome again to The Popculture Cafe. The podcast that has you wonder what strange info he has to pass along. Well this time I have the pleasure of talking to Courtney aka:GeekyGamerChick. We had a great time just talking like regular folks and talking geek. Our conversation ranged for her favorite movie, Walter Mity, Blogs, Pacific Rim, Not liking horror movies. Also T.V., Almost Human, Godzilla, Star Trek, Star Wars, Jennifer Hill and clowns. So please take a listen and relax with some chat between myself and Courtney.