James Wan’s latest horror outing Insidious turns out to be a roller coaster of a film, which jumps from being a dread-filled fright fest to a farcical horror flick. The pairing of the co-creator of Saw and the producers from Paranormal Activity makes for a movie full of hair-raising spills which turns out to be a little over-the-top to warrant a re-watch.
The film begins with your typical Hollywood family that has recently moved to a huge suburban house and is unsure what to make of the creaking noises and staccato strings that accompany their every move. Rose Byrne, most noted for her performance in hit TV series Damages plays Renai, a highly-strung mother who’s confused when her son suddenly falls into a coma. Wan demonstrates his ability to keep you on the edge of your seat in the subsequent hour without opting for blood and guts. Insidious is a straight-up horror film. There are little CGI effects and it’s packed with jump scares that never feel forced or staged. Instead they are intricately played out to startling effect – Insidious is probably one of the scariest films I’ve seen in years.
As Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai begin to despair at the strange goings on that follow their ill son, they decide to call on a psychic to solve their problems. The introduction of Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) is accompanied by a comical pair of associates who look like they’ve stepped out of the Ghostbusters. From then on, the film continues to be sprinkled with a fair few comedy moments that I won’t spoil for you in this review. However, the laughs don’t detract from the horror as we begin to see more of the ghouls responsible for Daltons (Ty Simpkins) condition.
The visual style in the film is stripped down yet visceral – the decision not to use gore has meant that the make-up team appear to have gone to town in artistically daubing the ghosts that make up “the further” – they look like the characters that populate Bioshock. However, the tense climax of the film ends up showing less restraint and makes the fatal mistake that horror films often do – we see too much. Ghosts begin to swarm the screen, playing out what looks like Halloween at Madame Tussaud’s. Couple this with a supernatural theory behind the plot which is protracted in its explanation, and Wan ruins what could have been a cracking horror film.
Insidious is worth watching for the first hour, as it’s a master class in tense, understated scares. However, the conclusion descends into farce and shatters the carefully constructed atmosphere that was so painstakingly created on an impressively small budget.
Insidious is released across the UK on April 29th
Via Blogomatic 3000