Director: James Wan
One of the more known horror franchises has to start somewhere, and that is this movie. With Insidious 5 out this weekend, I am going to rattle off reviews of all 4 current movies. I have seen all 4 movies previously, but I remember nearly nothing from this first movie.
Insidious is a good movie, starting off the series on the right foot. It features some interesting lore, scary scenes, and characters that develop and matter. While it isn’t the scariest of horror movies, it is still pretty creepy, and Insidious is worth a watch.
The first thing I want to talk about is the plot. Unlike many horror movies I have seen, Insidious manages to build a storyline and a plot that works with the creepy elements. It isn’t just scary to be scary, things build on top of each other to create meaningful scares and moments that are relevant to the plot.
The plot follows our two leads Josh and Renai as they move into a new house. Weird things start happening around the house, but the pair brush it off as figments of their imagination. This comes easy, until their son Daulton falls into a mysterious coma that, accordingly to their doctor, has no cause.
Daulton remains in the coma, and the incidents start to get worse and worse, harder to brush off or ignore. The coma and the things happening in their home push the family to the brink, and they are forced to try and escape. Unfortunately, there is no escaping who or what is tormenting the Lamberts.
The plot is really interesting, and the lore set up later in the movie is great. The only problem is the setup takes forever. Forever. The first hour is pretty slow, and affects my score of this movie heavily. It isn’t overly scary, the plot is so slow, and it’s flat out boring. Our characters don’t matter yet, and the stakes haven’t built up. The opening lacks a solid hook to keep you interested and engaged, and this would be an easy movie to turn off after the slow start. Don’t. Keep watching, it gets much better in just a minute.
The second half of the movie is where we thing starts to come together. We are still learning about the world behind the world in Insidious, but it’s a lot more learning by watching instead of telling. It’s more visually appealing, and the scares really start coming quickly. All of the development in the beginning starts to come together, and the back half is so much better than the beginning.
Rose Byrne is masterful. Her performance amplifies the atmosphere and adds to a lot of the scenes. Her emotional demeanor is great, and her character feels real. It’s a very believable performance, and her character is very relatable. She’s the first one to see anything odd, and it takes a minute for anyone to believe her. That hopeless feeling is displayed wonderfully.
Along side Byrne, Patrick Wilson also does a great job. He’s the overwhelmed husband who wants little do with his family until the haunting begins. Even once things start happening, he is pretty skeptical, and Wilson plays that role well. Josh also experiences the most development throughout the film, so we get to experience almost two different versions of the character. Its really well done by both the crew and the cast, and the character development is great to see. It adds meaning, creates stakes, and makes Josh a much more likeable character later in the film.
Outside of our main characters, our cast of ‘Ghostbusters’ bring some important details about the lore and the main ideas that will become really important to this franchise. Elise, Specs, and Tucker play a fairly minor role in this movie, at least until much later in the film, so I will talk about their details in the other reviews.
Surprisingly enough, the movie looks good. Even though it is from 2010, the visuals hold up. I don’t like some of the stylistic decisions, like the lighting used and how everything seems to be tinted gray for a large portion of the movie, but that had little to do with the quality of the visuals.
The effects looked really good, using a lot of practical effects that kept the budget for Insidious low. Not only that, the use of practical effects makes the jump scared and other creepy moments really pop. Everything is looks real, because it is real, and it helps the movie hold up against time.
I really liked the way the different ghosts and demons had personality. The creepy imagery for each major demon/ ghost made them stand out. I didn’t feel confused about which was which, making the viewing experience simpler. Also made it a lot scarier, but that’s to be expected.
The last thing to mention about Insidious is the different between scary and creepy. While Insidious is both scary and creepy, it doesn’t use a ton of jump scares. Instead the movie uses the score, the visual effects, and the characters to build up the anticipation. Creepy things occur, and jump scares happen, but it’s the anticipation that creates the true fear while watching this movie.
Horror movies aren’t usually my cup of tea, but I enjoy Insidious, and I enjoy the franchise as a whole. The movie is both scary and creepy, relying on practical effects and the score to create an uncomfortable atmosphere. The characters are solid and the plot is good, but the first half of the movie is so slow. It feels like the start of a franchise, focusing more on laying the ground work for future projects instead of grabbing your attention.