In my opinion, horror movies require their directors to possess great filming skills. Alfred Hitchcock is known as a legendary genius of this genre; his method of suspense made audiences feel disturbed and nervous all the time while watching his films. Unfortunately, today’s horror movies and thrillers have degraded the art form to a gathering of clichés, which differ only depending on the topic of a particular movie. One recent film that tried to overcome banal horror clichés is “Insidious”—a story of a haunted boy and his parents.
“Insidious” is a film by James Wan and Leigh Whannell—the tandem responsible for the famous Saw franchise. Considering this, one would be possibly awaiting a high-class suspense movie; for a film that scares rather with its atmosphere than with jump-scares, gore, and sudden loud sounds. Justifying this expectation, “Insidious” begins reasonably well—in that the first-third of the film is truly frightening. Unfortunately, gradually “Insidious” returns to tried methods, sometimes just interpreting them, but never adding fresh material.
The plot starts with an average American family (Josh, his wife Renai, and their three children—Dalton, Foster, and Kelly) that moves into a new house. As soon as they settle in and unpack their things, strange occurrences happen. In the beginning, the only person to notice the abnormalities is Renai; the books she was searching for a long time somehow appear at the loft; things seem to move on their own; strange sounds can be heard around the house and in through the radio. Once Dalton falls down the stairs and goes into a coma. Doctors can do nothing to cure the boy; he remains unconscious, and the family continues to encounter paranormal activities. Ultimately, Josh and Renai decide to move to another house, considering their current one is haunted. Unfortunately, poltergeist keeps harassing them even after they move. The ghost hunters whom the family finally address tell them it was not the house that has been haunted, but their son, Dalton.
The main issue of “Insidious” is it is completely secondary. No, really: a young happy family moving into a haunted house is one of the most common clichés for horror movies! At the same time, I liked that the directors tried to bypass this banality by shifting the focus from the house on the boy, and developing the idea about demons trying to possess Dalton’s body. But anyways, the methods they used to scare the audience were typical. White noise and voices on the radio, a rocking wooden horse, dark silhouettes, lost items, jump-scares—we have seen all that dozens of times. And though the movie still manages to please the audience with its quality of performance, the general impression from “Insidious” remains a bit tarnished.
Another factor that does not speak in favor of “Insidious” is a number of flaws, which are pretty easy to notice. Microphone wires, which can be seen as Josh takes Dalton’s clothes out of a wardrobe; a shadow of a cameraman behind Renai as she enters Dalton’s room; a cameraman walking behind the ghost hunters in the scene with their astral projections; as well as several other easily revealed mistakes can ruin the impression of the movie.
“Insidious” is a well-made horror movie about a poltergeist. It can hardly be called innovative, though, due to a number of exploited horror movies clichés; at the same time, the directors made significant efforts to make the story about a family in a haunted house look intriguing (so it becomes a story about a family with a haunted son). While having no serious claims to the quality of the actors’ play, special effects, or dialogues, I noticed a number of flaws—mostly of a technical nature—that can ruin the viewing of “Insidious.”
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