20 November 2011

Ally's Review: Insidious

Continuing the trend of very recent films, I brought Insidious to the table, a film that none of us had seen but one we've been talking about for a while. The recent run has been a bit hit and miss (as always at horror club!) with some good (The Woman), some pretty poor (The Dead) and some what-might-have-been's (The Silent House). Insidious can probably be classified in the not-too-bad category, although it's a film of two halves…

Insidious comes from the makers of Saw and Paranormal Activity, something I didn't know until just before we started watching. I've never seen Saw because from what I've heard it sounds like the sort of horror movie that I really loathe. We did watch Paranormal Activity and that was one of the major disappointments of last season, so I was a bit worried that Insidious was going to fail to deliver after such a promising trailer.

In the first half of the film, the story of the family haunted by… something… unfolds at a steady pace. The jumps, tension and creepiness increase as we learn more about what's happening. To about the halfway point in the film this is really well achieved, in my opinion. It's exactly the type of film that scares me - paranormal/bump in the night etc - so I was hiding behind my hands a fair bit. There are some really well designed scares, which caught all of us screaming at various points. While the acting is quite poor (not quite as bad as The Dead, but still noticeably wooden) it doesn't have too much of a negative impact on what is a creepy ghost/paranormal story. It's not particularly original, many of the elements feel borrowed from other films (The Exorcist, Poltergeist, even The Haunting), but again because the scares are plentiful and because the pace of the film is good it doesn't really matter too much.

Around the halfway point we are introduced to a sort of parapsychologist who does the job of fully explaining what is happening. She, along with her assistants, start to draw up plans for sorting out the situation. It's around this time that the tension and spookiness of the film begin to noticeably sag. While it's not a disastrous change of pace, it does impact the film quite significantly, to the point where it becomes a bit comical. When the father enters the different dimension the film becomes a bit silly, and the scares completely lose their impact. There is one scene that is so stupid, I felt like I was watching Batman & Robin (never a good thing). By the time the film reaches it's climax I felt quite bored, and I think it is by this point that the poor acting begun to have an effect.

The twist at the end of the film has been criticised a fair bit from what I've subsequently read, but I didn't mind it too much. The film was limping towards the finish line and needed some spark to finish. It seemed okay to me, even if it was a little bit obvious. Or maybe my expectations from twists are so low after The Silent House? Either way, it wasn't the deal breaker in this film.

Overall, the film is quite enjoyable and has some really good scares, but it runs out of steam just after half way through and never gets it back. A solid film, but not a modern classic. Best to watch one of the films that it borrows heavily from instead.

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