Overlooked Film of the Week- #60
The haunted house subgenre is a favorite of mine when it comes to horror movies. Unfortunately, my love for the genre is usually diluted by strings of not-so-good examples of how the subgenre should be handled. Usually, the haunted house movie delves into the supernatural and the weird. I have no problem with weird, I love weird, I can handle weird. Sometimes it seems these movies end up a little too weird and too strange, and it overwhelms the rest of the movie. Time and time again, I have incredibly disappointed by these sad attempts at a once prominent subgenre. What is worse is that I thought it would only go downhill from here.
Then in 2011, something unthinkable happened. Somebody came along and breathed new life into the haunted house movie. His name was James Wan, and he made a little movie called “Insidious.” “Insidious” was immensely different from most movies of its kind. First, the performances were good across the board, something that these movies lack on a usual basis. Second, the movie has lots of supernatural ideas, and the film still manages to generate creepy atmosphere and crippling scares. There are some big “boo” moments in the film, but they are well done and really add to the bizarre fright that is “Insidious.” I even like that there was a mystery within the story of the movie and we had a little game to play as we watch events unfold. It had been a long time since I had seen something that really knocked me on my socks the way that “Insidious” did, but I am certainly glad I was able to see it.
The film begins on a high note. The camera quickly pans throughout a dark house, we see an eerie portrait in one of the rooms of the house, and then we quickly move into the bedroom of a little boy. Then the screen goes black and delivers the title in huge letters. Creepy images follow as we watch a slightly disturbing opening credit sequence. This sequence shall surely rank high on a list of best opening credit sequences. The music by Joseph Bishara is strikingly effective and is easily one of the highlights of the entire movie. I love it when the music in a horror movie can create genuine tension all by itself and the music by Bishara does exactly that throughout the entire movie.
After the opening credit sequence is done we meet the Lambert family. Rose Byrne plays Renai Lambert and Patrick Wilson plays Josh Lambert. The Lamberts are a happy family with two boys and they are moving into a new house together. I ask that you pay really close attention to the discussion between Renai and her son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) while they look through their family photo album, because what you’ll need to solve the mystery lays in that conversation. “Insidious” isn’t a brain teaser type of movie, but one where if you pay close attention, the revelations of the mystery are that much cooler. After some time at the house, the Lamberts begin to experience lots of disturbing behavior going on in their new house. Even after they move out of the house, the disturbing occurrences continue. They occurrences get so great that Dalton ends up in the hospital and nothing can wake him. Soon, paranormal activity specialists are called in and things only get crazier after that.
The work done by Byrne, Wilson and Simpkins is really good. It has been a while since such strong leads were featured in a film like this. Barbara Hershey shows up as the mother of Josh, and Hershey is able to conjure a great performance. I like all the members of the paranormal team in this film and the sequel and the acting done by Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson. If they turn this into a full-fledged franchise, it could work wonders and I hope they do. Oh, and for "Insidious" stay after the end credits, you'll be glad you did.
It’s hard to find a good creepy movie these days, but “Insidious” doesn’t disappoint.