Insidious - 2 out of 5
Halloween is upon us and the previous night (previous night to when I'm writing this--I don't want future readers to think that every time they read this I was doing what I'm about to say the night before like I'm stuck in some kind of blog Groundhog's Day scenario) well, the previous night I decided to carve some pumpkins with my girlfriend and the spirit of Halloween quickly possessed me and I was in the mood for some horror! Now, I wasn't going to waste my money and, more importantly, my time to see Paranormal Activity 3 again (read my review here: http://revronmovies.blogspot.com/2011/10/paranormal-activity-3.html). Looking through some titles I haven't seen yet, I settled on a newer one called Insidious. The title alone sounded devilish and, to be honest, I didn't really know much about the story--didn't read a single article about it, didn't venture to investigate the film's storyline and never saw a single trailer for it. All I knew was the film was about ghosts or astral projection or perhaps about monkeys attempting to run a law firm. Now monkeys being lawyers would be really cool and, honestly, after sitting through this lackluster scare film, I found myself really disappointed monkeys weren't involved.
Insidious is the story of a small child who enters into a coma-like state. Doctors are baffled and, in my opinion, the family should have went to the monkey lawyers for a lawsuit but as the months go by and the child sees no sign of leaping out of bed to play Pac-man, utilize hula hoops or whatever kids are into now-a-days, the mother of the family starts to experience weird goings on as she starts to see ghostly figures appearing in the house. And, like all other horror films that involve ghosts, shit starts to go wild and a psychic is called in--ready to scam (or as psychics call it, "help") the family out of their money...and possibly make the angry spirit flee.
A mother and son in matching pajamas?!? Now, that is scary.
The film was written and directed by the duo that gave us the sickly profitable franchise of Saw (James Wan and Leigh Whannell) but the film lacks the feel of the story that made Jigsaw a household name. The film lacks gore and, for 90% of it, lacks any real tension, suspense or scares. In fact, the first 45 minutes of the film is nothing but a boring look into the mundane lives of this family that seems like they are completely uninterested in each other. And the husband and wive have 3 kids. How do you produce 3 kids when the affection they show each other on screen is about as hot as a glass of cold water?
Now, if you're able to make it through the first dreadfully boring 45 minutes and can stomach the lack of passion and realism in the husband and wife (played by Rose "I was much hotter before I decided heroin skinny is the way to go" Byrne and Patrick "I was awesome in Watchmen" Wilson), the film will treat you to a single creepy scene that involves the husband's mother, played by Barbara Hershey. Don't get your hopes up--she isn't getting raped by ghosts in this one. (If you got that reference, then you have seen The Entity and I congratulate you.) This single creepy scene involves the mother explaining a nightmare she had and within it, we catch a glimpse of the angry monster terrorizing the home and keeping the family's child in suspended animation.
Now in all seriousness, this is just fucking creepy.
At this point, my hopes are up and I think I'm being rewarded for my patience in the beginning of the film and will now get to see some scares...I was wrong as all feelings of creep are stolen, destroyed, burned and pissed upon by the inclusion of the psychic in the form of her two arguing assistants providing comic relief. Not only does this mysterious inclusion of comedy destroy the creepy scene that aired not more than 30 seconds prior to their arrival, it also changes the tone of the film and the entire story flies off its tracks (that were, at this point, quite grounded) and lets it soar towards the skies and into "WTF" territory. Things start to get strange and I began to wonder if there was a gas leak in my home as I was quite certain that the evil entity out for the little boy's soul was Darth Maul from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. After the film suddenly restarts itself and has a plot's answer to plastic surgery, the film reverts back to itself at the end and decides to give us one more scare (because 3 is the magic number in this film--I guess Whannell is a fan of Schoolhouse Rocks).
"Hi, we're here to destroy all momentum this film has made with our pointless and completely unnecessary comic relief."
Overall, Insidious was a complete disappointment that killed (or exorcised) the Halloween spirit I was filled with. While the film offers up some scares (only 3), the movie is otherwise boring--even the presence of my beloved bad-ass Darth Maul couldn't help this one out. The comic relief suddenly placed in the film felt completely foreign and only seemed to further highlight the unexpected change in tone the movie takes in its third act. If you're desperate for some Halloween horror, I guess you could give this one a shot because the 3 scares the movie spent all its energy on are quite good and very creepy--I will neither confirm or deny I needed to change my underpants after seeing them--but if you're looking for something that is so scary that it will make you crap up candy corn you ate last year for Halloween, this isn't the movie for you.