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Insidious

Insidious

What She said:

She

‘Tis the season—the season to indulge in a myriad of horror movies in an attempt to keep myself from sleeping at night.  Unfortunately, I won’t be losing any sleep over Insidious, an overly drawn out haunt flick that borrows a bit too much from other films and fails to thrill in its final act.  Insidious tells the story of a family who recently moved into a new house to find themselves harassed by ghostly spirits.  It starts innocently enough, a few slamming doors, some moved books, but the situation quickly escalates into scary figures running around and demons making appearances.  Oh yeah, and the eldest child falls into a coma in the midst of all this. 

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne star as Josh and Renai Lambert.  She is some sort of musician, and he is a school teacher.  Josh can’t handle all that is happening to his family, and so he just hides at work while his wife braves the spirits alone for much of the movie.  She’s sort of a whiny supermom.  She has a baby, a young child, and another one that’s stuck in homecare in a coma.  Josh totally neglects his family, and doesn’t even believe Renai when she explains all that has been happening.  Seemingly to shut her up, he moves them out of the haunted house and into a rental home.  But the spirits follow.  Cue Josh’s mom, played by Barbara Hershey, a revelation about Josh’s past, and a hodge podge team of paranormal experts led by a goofy psychic. 

What starts as a legitimately suspenseful horror movie, quickly turns into an overcomplicated parody of itself.  Some awkward humor, a contrived plot explanation, and a completely underwhelming conclusion ruined this one for me.  The movie seemed like it wanted to be a basic haunt-fest, but halfway through took a divergent path that was a bit nonsensical and very uninteresting.  And yes, it is possible to show too much.  The suspense of the early part of the film lies in the mysterious figures lurking in the shadows.  Once the overly painted faces of the evil spirits are exposed, it’s really no longer scary.  

So much promise, but alas, not as good as I would have hoped.

Thumbs only about a quarter of the way up, and that’s because the beginning wasn’t too bad.

What he said:

He

Insidious is the story of a family who’s looking to start over. It’s implied that they’ve had some issues in the past and we are seeing them at a point in their lives where they are looking to wipe the slate clean. Flawed characters and new beginnings are not all that uncommon in the horror genre, though we find out so little about their past, mentioning them bordered on pointless.

There are parts of this movie that seem like a blatant ripoff of Poltergeist.  In particular, when the movie’s finale begins to resolve itself. At times, it really felt like elements of the script were bordering on plagiarism. Interestingly enough, the imitation wasn’t what bothered me. The execution of this final act are where I think things started to unravel.

For a healthy chunk of the movie, I was intrigued. I’d say a good two-thirds of this movie is a fun ghost story that kept me on the edge of my seat.  There are so many bad horror movies out there, that when you come across a good one, you get excited. But towards the end, it really started to spiral out of control. The visuals weren’t scary, but instead kind of goofy; which is death for a horror movie.

It wasn’t a bad movie, but I will say that it is a good thing it ended when it did. This was a perfect example of “less is more”. The very second they started to fully reveal what was going on, the movie started going down. Fortunately for the film, that was about 75% of the way through.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on October 17, 2011.