Sunday, October 28, 2012

Insidious (2010)

Insidious (USA, 2010) - Color, Director(s): James Wan
MPAA Rating: PG-13
[UK: 15]
Approx. 103 min.

Z-rating: 3 out of 5 stars for being a decently creepy PG-13 horror

Cheese Factor: 2 out of 5 stars for the cheesy computer graphics that makes this movie look silly

This movie made a big buzz when it was coming out in theaters, apparently this went head-to-head with Scream 4 back in April 2011. Some horror fans saw it as a battle for the future of horror, if Scream won in the box office that would mean studio execs would see more profit in milking out sequels from the same tired old franchises. Insidious was supposed to be a completely original movie, a fresh idea, and maybe studio execs would invest more into independent films if it out performed Scream in the box offices. I think they both performed about equally well, but the budget for this film ($1,500,000) was significantly lower than Scream 4 ($40,000,000). I hope the studio execs were paying attention!

A family is apparently just moving into a new house, mom's a composer and dad's a teacher. They're slowly unpacking but some things seem to be moving around on their own. After going up to the creepy attic, one of the kids inexplicably falls into a coma. The doctors can't find anything wrong with him, and 3 months later, they send him home from the hospital. Things start getting really strange after that, with mom hearing a strange whispering over the baby monitor that slowly get louder until it turns into shouting and wakes the baby. Other strange things start happening like getting mysterious visitors in the middle of the night but what really sends them into a panic is one day mom finds a handprint on the bedsheets of the boy in the coma one day.

This is where things start to get interesting. The most common question asked about these kinds of movies is why doesn't the family just leave? Move out of the haunted house and go somewhere safe where it's not haunted? This movie actually has the family move out after a night where the spirits materialize and tries to grab mom in bed, that's when they decide that they're going to move. (They should get an award for smartest family in a horror movie!) Unfortunately for them, whatever it is seems to have followed them into the new house. Mom consults a priest but Grandma (on Dad's side) says she has a friend to suggest that might be able to help. They agree and are sent a pair of "investigators" to check out the house first, to verify that it's really haunted. Once it was confirmed, they call in the psychic medium, Elise, who arrives and immediately recognizes Dad from when he was younger. She walks around the house and, once inside of the son's room, she sees a demon that she describes to one of her "investigators" who sketches it out.

Elise then comes out with an explanation for all the strange events that have been taking place. The son is able to astral project in his sleep, so he has wandered too far from his physical body and gotten lost. The weakening link between his spiritual and his physical body is inviting malevolent spirits from another plane of existence to take over his physical body. At first, Dad doesn't believe them and kicks them out of the house but then invites them back after realizing that they're right. The truth is revealed that Dad used to astral project in his sleep as well, that's where the son gets it, and he's only one who can go in and get his son back.

Nudity: None.

Gore: Being a PG-13 movie, there was no gore and not much blood of any kind either. This was more a "chills and scares" than the "blood and guts" type of movie. 

Awesome: Very. There was some interesting camerawork employed here, which gave the film a lot of style but the music was what really stole the show. Very creepy music would heighten the tension on certain scenes, felt kinda like Psycho. My biggest complaint were the cheesy effects used to animate the "smiles" on some of the ghosts. I thought the story and music were doing a great job of setting a creepy tone and atmosphere but the cheesy effects took me out of the moment and made me want to laugh at how ridiculous it looked. James Wan is very talented (famous for directing Saw, which was a sleeper hit) that really shows his range and skill as a director by nailing both rated R and PG-13 horror films. Also showing how valuable he is as a filmmaker by pulling such large returns for films made with significantly lower budgets. (This one alone grossed $97,009,150 worldwide)