“Insidious May Be Chilling, But It's Let Down By Terrible Characters, Little-To-No Scares, And Terrible Story Development."”
December 26th, 2011
Insidious is an 2010 supernatural suspense film, or for the most part it is.
Insidious circles around a young family being terrorized my odd occurrences. One flaw of the film starts right off the bat. Now I personally like films that start off on the right, speedy foot, but Insidious takes that kind of far. The film doesn't necessarily start right in the middle of these events, but it feels as though someone clicked the skip button on the DVD remote and no one noticed.
The film focuses on 3 out of 5 family members: Renai (Mommy), Josh (Daddy), and Dalton (the pure child that has the worst of luck with ghosts because that's never been done before); the other two kids do not matter, which is lucky for us because removing that crying baby after 30 minutes was the best thing Insidious did.
After Dalton suffers a fall from a ladder inside the attic, he is heard screaming off-screen after a sound of scratching is heard near him. He then slips into an unexplained coma the next day. Three months later these odd events begin occurring.
The biggest problem in Insidious' story is that it completely jumps the shark. It starts off as another ghost movie, but then out of no where it transitions into this film about demons. This is what makes the second half of the film even worse than the first half. Had the movie stayed with Renai seeing ghost and then trying to get rid of them, the film would've been mediocre at best. But its random shift to Gothic town felt like a cheap shot to keep the audience from falling asleep. It wasn't clever, it was total BS.
And once you finally get past all that, there's a cliffhanger ending that is there, not to help the story, but only to make the audience gasp with fear. Aspiring film makers, I ask you to never follow the steps Insidious took. If you're going to have a cliffhanger, make sure it relates to everything in a good way. Do not put it in there for ratings/popularity.
But Insidious biggest flaw isn't in the story, it's in the characters. Let me just say this: when you're watching a movie and you start doing voice overs, and what you're saying is actually funnier than the film itself, that movie is in deep trouble.
Only one character develops in the film and that's Josh, played by Patrick Wilson, and he doesn't develop well. In the start of the film, Josh is super-dad, and I guess that stays with him as he's the one who has to save Dalton. But Josh is that cliched male character in horror films. You know, the one that doesn't really believe in anything until it happens to him himself? Yeah, that douche.
Then there's Renai, played by Rose Byrne, and she has no utter importance other than to cry about everything.
But what I'm really talking about here is Insidious' use of secondary characters. They're all bad.
First off there's Lorraine (Josh's mother), played by Barbara Hershey. At first she's just seen as the husband's mother who is supportive of her daughter-in-laws' struggle. Seems normal, right? Well then, out of the blue, she becomes a major part of the demonic story line! The family has a discussion about what's going on and then, BOOM, all of a sudden Lorraine is talking about how she understands what Renai is going through, how she's experienced herself, how she can see the monster, blah blah blah. It feels as though there was a better character here to say something like this, but the writers decided they wanted a twist, so they pulled this off... Absolutely pointless.
Then there're our "ghostbusters" if you will. Firstly, there's the dynamic duo of Specs and Tucker, played by Leigh Whannell (who also wrote the film) and Angus Sampson respectively. They're really meant to serve as comic relief, but what "comedy" they do produce is very forced and bland.
And finally there's Elise, played by Lin Shaye. Elise is Lorraine's long time friend who just so happens to specialize in ghost. With Elise, I guess Lorraine's part in the story isn't that random, but I still don't like it. Elise seems to be the only likable character in the whole movie. She's strong, determined, someone who's supposed to lead a film. She plays her character well and saves the movie from being a "complete" train wreck.
Direction is also a huge problem here. Not only is everything put together sloppily, but the film also has a 5 minutes opening credit sequence and the camera is zooming in on something in every shot! Slow zooms are okay when it's for a dramatic piece like a monologue or something, but when you're zooming in on everything just because you shouldn't be allowed the camera, James Wan...
Overall, Insidious is just a heaping pile of originality gone awry. For what it is, Insidious can capture the suspense it needs and has some stunning visuals, but it never comes together as a solid film. The jump scares are predictable, the acting is beyond terrible, and nothing really makes any sense. It saddens me that such terrible "horror" films get so much attention when there are magnificent ones out there that barely had their 5 minutes of fame - Midnight Meat Train, Quarantine, etc. Insidious gets 2 red demon faces out of five.