Hashtag Horror Edition:

Finally the time you have been waiting for: I am proud to present Clancy and Leida’s first ever horror movie reviews please be sure to give them some love after you finish reading this review. (@PDXGeek777 & @LeidamarieTL on twitter) they would love to hear your feedback!
 Without further a due…………..
Game Huntress Horror Movie Club
Insidious (2010)

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?

Leida’s Review

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.


Clancy’s Review

in•sid•i•ous \in-ˈsi-dē-əs\ – causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed
At first glance I would not have guessed that Insidious came from the team that brought us the Saw franchise.  I have nothing against what has been called “torture porn”, but do have thoughts on it’s existence and modern culture.  For the sake of this  article it isn’t my thing.  Insidious is far less graphic, almost not graphic at all, and comes with a PG-13 rating.  I want to start  this review with a fairly spoiler free discussion.  Then I will move  into a section that assumes you have seen the film or aren’t worried  about having things revealed.
In the tradition of classic ghost tales Insidious relies more on sound, camera shots, and the creation of atmosphere and mood to scare the viewer.  As the tale goes on they begin to blend in ghosts  and demons that are visually terrifying, but still don’t shove them  right in your face like a Freddy Krueger type character.  I actually  thought the filmmakers did an incredible job skating that line.  When  they finally pull the curtain back, they give just enough visual to keep your imagination working in overdrive.  I feel that if you spend too  much time staring at the monster you begin to see the proverbial zipper  in the costume.  Frank Zappa referred to this as “Cheepnis”.  It has a  time and a place.  I love that stuff, those movies are fun, but  typically not scary to me.

The above video is not my creation.  The audio is from a show that I  attended at Portland Oregon’s Roseland Theater.  (Frank’s son) Dweezil  Zappa’s tribute to his father, Zappa Plays Zappa.
Much of the first part of the film delivers the fright  through the eyes of the mother, played by Rose Byrne.  Byrne plays a  very believable young mother and her concern for the children feels  genuine.  You may remember her from the Zombie film, 28 Weeks Later.  In both movies I truly felt like she was terrified in the situations and could get into her head.  In Insidious we the audience know she isn’t crazy.  Yet she plays the character well  enough that you can understand why the other characters may be concerned that she is slowly falling apart.
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.
I will lightly touch on the story in this portion of my review.  As Insidious played on, I was getting an increasing sense that this could turn out to be a  generic ghost story.  It had my full attention and I was definitely  scaring myself.  I just wasn’t seeing things that made me feel that I  would remember the story later.  That changes when things take a bit of a turn and we begin to see what is going on with these characters.  You  really can’t say much without spoiling the film.  What I will say here  is that the ideas and events aren’t 100% original, but they do take the  story to a place that I really found intriguing.  It then builds to a  big conclusion with father and son.  A good horror film tends to end  with almost what you would call an epic finale scene.  Things ramp up,  get insanely intense, then the character goes up against a bad guy and  either wins or loses.  I found the last 30 minutes of this film to be  completely satisfying.  Do they triumph over evil?  Does the boy ever  wake from his coma?  Was the house built on an ancient burial ground?   And more importantly did they move the headstones but leave the bodies?  I am sure I will spoil that below.
That will conclude the spoiler free portion of my review.  If that  is the only part you wish to read, I can finish by saying I recommend  giving this movie a try.  I feel it succeeds on three levels.  Engaging  characters, atmospheric frights, and a reasonably unique story that puts it above a cookie cutter ghost tale.  I will be watching and reviewing  the sequel to this film fairly soon.
Spoiler Alert: First let me get this out-of-the-way.  There is a scene in which the doorbell rings in the middle of the night.  I actually have a fear of front  doors with windows, not peepholes.  The idea of having to approach a  door that I can not sneak up on from within…  I am getting hyped up  just thinking about it!  Some mad killer could be on your porch and you  are the one 100% exposed.  That is not the problem.  The problem is the  dad.  He creeps down the stairs, grabs something as a weapon, approaches the door.  Nothing.  Next he peaks out the window.  Nothing.  He then  opens the door.  What the hell are you doing?!  At this point he locks  the door and sets the alarm, walks into another room.  There is a bang  and the alarm begins to scream.  He runs back to the front hall.  The  door is wide open!  That isn’t the end of the scene, but you get the  idea.  I am going to now calmly state that at no point does this man  telephone the police.  In fact I am fairly certain that the idea is  never even entertained.  Mind you, at this time in the film they don’t  believe they are being haunted.  I actually love scenes like that in  movies.  Even when I am wrong, it is fun to yell at the television.
The final thing I would like to talk about requires I spoil a big part of  the movie.  My intention is not to spell out the rest of the film and  explain the ending.  I recommend you just watch the movie if this has  interested you at all.  The last reveal of the film is an explanation of why this child is in a coma.  It turns out that the boy is a traveler  of sorts.  He was using astral projection when he slept.  Basically his astral self would leave his body and travel.  He would more than likely interpret these experiences as dreams.  This  traveling leaves merely an empty shell behind  in his bed.  A demon  befriends the boy on his out-of-body journey and lures him to a place  called the Further.  His spiritual body becomes trapped in this place  and the demons and ghosts are drawn towards the empty vessel left  behind.  The end of the film portrays his father’s journey to retrieve  him from this other world.  I found this to be a very interesting spin.  This lets the film build outside of an average ghost story.  The movie  does a nice job transitioning into this part and feels pretty seamless.  While the idea of astral projection is pretty heady, I think the way the filmmakers approached it kept it fairly accessible to your average audience.  Some of the creepiest moments are this journey into the Further.  I would watch the movie for that alone.
The idea of an out-of-body experience has always fascinated me.  Especially if you tie that to a dream state.  I understand that most things can or will be explained in a scientific manner.  That said some of us may  have had those moments of dizziness or vertigo where you don’t feel 100% in control of your physical self.  The common dream of falling only to  wake up and catch yourself in bed also comes to mind.  I have had dreams that are as simple as my body in my room, but as I think about it  little things are wrong and I can’t grasp time.  Eventually I feel like I am looking down on my sleeping self.  When these things occur part of  my imagination enjoys attributing it to the idea of an astral journey.  I really just chalk it up to the complex human brain.  Honestly we don’t  know that a person’s perception of something is anywhere near what we  experience.  My brother is a prime example.  He is colorblind.  When I  try to think about how or what he is seeing I start going down all  kinds of paths.  We have the words to attach to things, but that doesn’t mean we experience green in the same way as our neighbor.  I can’t say  how your mind will even respond to this movie.  Many will have a similar experience.  Others will shrug their shoulders and say what is the big  deal?  All part of why being human is such an incredible thing.

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 thegamehuntress@gmail.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.

5 thoughts on “Hashtag Horror Edition:

  1. Leida, I really enjoyed reading your review! First, it sounds like we may have similar reactions to getting scared. 🙂 The night I watched it, my walk to the bathroom…turn on hall light, turn on bedroom light, turn on walk in closet light, turn on bathroom light. It’s an apartment! I’m actually kind of glad that we had different opinions about the ending. I see your point for sure and agree on some things you had said. Darth Maul was creeping me out though! 🙂

  2. Ah! I forgot to also add, thank you Courtney. I’m glad you set up this movie club and responded to my request to join! 🙂

  3. Thanks Clancy! It was great to finally read your review as well! It’s always good when you get slightly different opinions and see how something can work for one person but not so much for another.

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