Saturday, 30 April 2011

Insidious review - Need a scary movie? Look no "Further"!

Last week I bemoaning the lack of quality scary movies in recent years... so thank the maker(s) of Saw for Insidious which was a good old-fashioned scare-fest.
The horror genre has taken a lot of flak recently for producing nothing but a stream of torture porn films or PG-13 remakes of classic or Asian horror films, and whilst Insidious doesn't really break any new ground, it shows that what really counts when making a scary movie is the execution.
Insidious focuses on Josh (Patrick Wilson), Renai (Rose Byrne) and their three children as they move into a new house only for their son Dalton to fall into a coma after an accident.  They start to see strange things but it turns out "it's not the house that's haunted... it's your son".
Reviewers might scoff at the haunted house/possessed child storyline, saying its been done to death, or the appearance of such horror cliches as a screeching violin soundtrack, creepy children, randomly opening and closing doors, etc.
However I would argue that these complaints are unnecessary because I want to watch a horror movie that terrifies and unsettles you, and James Wan & Leigh Whannell deliver scares by the bucket-load because of the fact that they are fans of the genre and knows exactly what works and how to generate a good scare.
Hitchcock once said that "there is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it".  When done correctly, a good "jump" scare works because it is a release from the suspense that has been building in the scene.  Modern horror filmmakers seem to have forgotten this and focus on the blood and gore rather than building suspense and tension.  Wan and Whannell expertly manage to ratchet up the tension to the point that the audience are on the edge of their seat waiting for the scare.  We know its coming, they know its coming, its just a matter of time.
Darth Maul was pissed about the plans to release Phantom Menace in 3D!
With a horror movie of this type it is always important to remember that "less is more" and that what the audience can imagine is always ten times more terrifying than whatever you can deliver on screen, and after a great two acts, the finale of the film loses it way slightly when Josh has to visit The Further in order to confront the demons and rescue his son.  While it is infinitely more effective than a similar plot point in Joe Dante's The Hole, it does verge on the demented silliness that reminded me of Drag Me To Hell.
But every film can't be The Exorcist and occasionally you go to the multiplex on a Friday night to enjoy a genre film that is well made and Insidious is a Ronseal film, in that it does exactly what it says on the tin... scare the bejesus out of you.  And it certainly worked on the audience I watched it with.  There were screams, people jumped out of their skin, and the girl behind me threw her popcorn in the air.  Sometimes that's all you can ask for... and the fact she didn't order nachos with cheese sauce!

4 stars

I don't see what all the fuss was about... Kate Middleton looks pretty rough to me in that dress!

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