Insidious (2011) – The only thing worse than being lost, is being lost in a James Wan movie.
Insidious isn’t just a challenging word for spelling bee enthusiasts. It’s also a challenging motion picture to survive watching. I know full well saying that sounds like it should be a good thing. I mean, considering the thriller/horror genre, you want your movie to put people on edge. They should describe your vision of terror much like a roller coaster, with harrowing drops, perilous turns, and belly-losing speed. But this movie doesn’t really contain these elements. It’s crammed so jam full of them, it comes across as either desperate or hilarious.
Sure, there are scary sequences. But where good films of this type are careful in how they place their jump scenes, sounds, and effects, all James Wan is interested in doing is torturing his product not unlike the victims of his previously helmed movie Saw. (Note: He only directed the first.)
Unfortunately the abuse sets in early on. Shrieking sounds emitting from a ghastly score begin even before we’re informed in three-story foot tall letters the name of the movie you’ve unfortunately chosen to watch is called Insidious. And while there are moments when absolute silence dominates, you are never far away from a string section of an orchestra wound so tight, they might pop before you do. Sadly, they don’t.
No, you still have yet to suffer through watching this lifeless nuclear family go through the process of exploring not one, but two houses before discovering what the trailer already told us: It’s the boy that’s haunted. Except, really, he’s allegedly doing astral projecting. But really really, it’s just a fucking creative way of not saying ‘possessed by demons’. Oh, and did you see how I just randomly said ‘fucking’ back there? The father does too. Just like that. Flippantly and without any real emotion behind it. Why? Because it’s PG-13, you get to say it once, so let’s throw that in there too.
Because I really don’t want to think about this movie anymore, I’ll just mention the film should also come with an epilepsy warning to go along with the bazillion jump scare sounds. In a scene that I think is more intense than the movie’s actual climax, the screen is filled with many random bursts of light. Be forewarned. You should also be aware the musical styling of Tiny Tim is featured in this motion picture. No, you read that right. Younglings will have to Google it, but everyone else knows exactly how terrifying *that* can be. /sarcasm.
Insidious has some great looking shots. And Barbara Hershey, who was just recently seen in one of the best films of 2010, at least looks like she’s trying to give some kind of performance here. But overwhelmingly there is not only just nothing of real substance to enjoy here, this is one of those films that misunderstands its purpose. Terrorize us. Show us a horror story that wrecks a good night sleep. Entertain us. Don’t torture us. That’s just mean.
Queer rewards this effort an:
The Writing of “Insidious”: A Screenplay in One Act
INT. WRITERS ROOM – NIGHT
JAMES WAN sits at a table with 4 tired-looking WRITERS.
Okay fellas! I got this story it’s about a kid who, like, has his spirit wander away and it can’t find it’s way back. There’s a bunch of evil-type things trying to get at his body to take it over. What do we call it??
Evil-thing! Devious! Crafty! Dubious! Insidious! The Purple Scare!
Wait, what was that? Insidious? Hmm. In. Sin. Insini. Sindi. IOU. Good good, it can go any way. Make sure some of those letters are in RED on the movie poster. Yeah. Okay, good work. Now, his soul is trapped in this place that’s sort of hazy, like a haunted house, but not nearly as fun. Stuff JUMPS OUT AT YOU! That’s scary. Don’t talk to me. I made SAW. I’m thinking of calling this place…. THE FURTHER.
Uh, shouldn’t that be THE FARTHER?
SHUT UP! If you remember Dead Silence you know I know the difference between further and… that other word. Moving on! So the movie opens with some weird stuff happening. The kid’s soul hasn’t wandered off yet, but there’s still demon things. And then they get stronger. And stronger. Then we introduce some wacky nerd types, because they’re funny. We end with a crazy twist that nobody could see coming! But you’ve all read the script. I think it’s perfect and we’re starting the shoot tomorrow.
Aren’t you concerned that no family has ever interacted like your hollywood-perfect family in this script?
JAMES WAN (confident, but annoyed)
It doesn’t matter. Go with it.
And why are there weird things happening before the kid is lost. I mean, nobody is really looking for his empty body when his soul is still in it.
JAMES WAN (getting more agitated)
It doesn’t matter. Nobody will notice. Nobody.
And why do they need his body anyway? By the end of the movie they’re capable of moving around in the living world, opening doors, and attacking people. That doesn’t seem consistent with your earlier description of the situation.
JAMES WAN (his voice low, teeth clenched)
And this twist. Who are you, M. freakin’ Night? That’s crap. That’s not scary. This entire script is crap. Were you drunk when you wrote this? This will take months to fix!
JAMES WAN (screaming)
That’s IT! You’re all fired! You’ll never work in Hollywood again! I’m James Wan! I’m James Wan!!!!! I’m James WAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!
JAMES WAN raises his fist to the sky, cursing the script gods and mankind alike. Soon, soon he would unleash Insidious on the world and nothing would stop him!
The Fat Man gives this attempt: