*Minor spoilers but it’s to brace you, trust me it’s for the best*
Cast/Crew: The Director & writers of SAW (James Wan and Leigh Whannell) team up with Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli to bring us the supernatural horror Insidious.
Plot: A couple’s young child falls into a coma – his spirit is in a dangerous place called “The Further”, while malevolent beings hope to inhabit his physical body. His parents try to save their son before it’s too late.
Thoughts on the film:
• Starts off as a lot of horror films (move into new house, kids don’t like it) but it takes off in a different direction. Mother Renai (Rose Byrne aka Moire from X-Men First Class) sees things, but father Josh (Patrick Wilson aka Ed Warren from The Conjuring) doesn’t believe. You can really see the Paranormal Activity hallmarks! I’ll divide up my thoughts into good & bad:
• Astral projection (going into a different realm where human souls and demons exist) is a very cool idea and a great excuse to step outside reality.
• Big fan of the creepy grandmother-in-black-dress ghost aka “Old Woman”. Very freaky and her looming/’visible in the background’ is unsettling. Brilliant!
• You can tell it’s quite low budget as the Astral Projection is shown as the same house, but shrouded in darkness; lit only using lanterns and with lots of dry ice covering the floor, with ‘frozen’ ghosts inhabiting it. Awesome. Really effective use of the $1.5m budget.
• I enjoyed the sarcastic paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker, surveying the place for paranormal activity (Leigh Whannell is one of them). The jaded co-workers talk about the equipment they use, which I always like hearing about. Their comic relief works and is welcome with the film.
• Extremely heavy-handed with the strings, this-is-scary shock music, which gets really grating.
• Relies too heavily on shock scares, but some of them are really well done.
• Not a big point, but the use of still/creepy contorted smiles is a bit naff.
• Sadly, the main demon (actually called “Lipstick Face Demon”) really hurt this film. He’s like a camp Darth Maul. I don’t think I’m ruining the movie telling you this, I’m bracing you for it so you can accept it, so it doesn’t ruin the movie! He’s properly shown in as an almost comedy-style old timey vaudevillain (not the NXT tag team), and the CGI for his wall-walking is really rough. It’s such a shame as the Astral Dimension/ghost house stuff is really very cool. The Insidious franchise would reign this character in and focus more on the Old Woman, which is absolutely the right choice.
OVERALL: Knowing to expect to groan when the main demon appears, I recommend seeing the film. The positives outweigh the negatives: There’s some effective scares and great anticipation, and astral projection is a more unique storytelling device. Go see it!