In Insidious, two parents are forced to cope with strange and supernatural occurrences that follow one of their three children’s mysterious comatose state. The film starts out strong, and even superior to most modern horror films. Unfortunately, due to lack of risk-taking, unoriginality, and a bizarre turn in the second half, Insidious falls into the realm of C-grade horror films. And here is the list of the week, brought to you by those three fatal flaws.
7 Modern Horror Films that Insidious Could Have Learned From (also known as “Top 7 Movies You Should Rent Over the Weekend Rather than Seeing Insidious”):
The Blair Witch Project: Insidious shows far too much of what we’re meant to be afraid of. The reason that the first half is much scarier than the second is because the audience is forced to guess what exactly the source of our fear is like. The Blair Witch Project was a pioneer in not showing too much, or enough even. The creators knew that our imagination is a lot scarier than what you can put on that screen.
Drag Me to Hell: On that same note, if the film insists on showing us what our imagination can do better, it should compensate in other areas. If a movie wants to go corny and over the top, it needs to horrify us in some other way. Drag Me to Hell shows the forces that Christine is dealing with, and they can be laughable. But the film takes advantage of that cheesiness and gives some gross-out scenes that will make you cringe. And it also perfects the “creepy jig” technique (don’t ask).
Hide and Seek: If you want to be freaked out by a pale kid who draws creepy pictures, look no further than Hide and Seek. Obviously this film played that particular game better (pun intended…LOL?) because it stars Dakota Fanning and Robert De Niro. Okay, it’s not a critic’s favorite, but it’ll creep you out more than Insidious.
Orphan: I’m always embarrassed to admit that Orphan scared me more than most horror films do. But, I have to give credit where credit is due, so I am willing to put my shame aside. One of the reasons that Orphan is so freaky is because there are no limitations on scaring the bejesus out of the little kids in the film. Those kids went through everything (bare in mind that the little girl is deaf and yes it used against her and to scare us). Insidious has so many opportunities to get the same reactions from its audience, but it tiptoes away from them. The children are so far removed from the conflict that they’re gone most of the time.
Paranormal Activity 2: Combine the lessons from The Blair Witch Project and Orphan and you have Paranormal Activity 2.
Scream: Scream is the best horror-comedy of all time. And horror-comedies are practically impossible to do well (take my word for it, I’ve tried to write them). The trickiest thing about that particular genre is creating a balance between freaking out the audience and making them laugh. But also, very importantly, the film must prepare its audience for said laughter. Scream does this; Insidious does not. The comic relief in Insidious comes late to the party, which results in confusion as to whether we’re supposed to be laughing. If you were planning on seeing Insidious, take the money you would have spent, put it in an envelope and bust that envelope open on April 15th for a midnight showing of Scream 4.
The Uninvited: If you’re going to leave us craving for a good twist, give us one. Insidious had the potential built up to blow minds and keep the audience excited and invested until the last second. If a psychological element, such as the one in The Uninvited, had been thrown in there too, I would have been salivating.
The Shining: Not as modern as the rest, but my favorite movie of all time, so it has to have a place on this list. The Shining has a monopoly on creepy twin girls. Just don’t go there.
All that being said, Insidious really does has some redeeming qualities; it’s just not the college demographic. If you’re still curious to check it out, go for it, but take your middle-school-aged brother as well; he’ll get a kick out of it and that’ll make it more fun for the both of you. Don’t take a date that you’re craving to cling onto because they’ll likely just be weirded out that you’re actually afraid. The film has some awesome techniques with color and lighting. Honestly, the first hour was really impressive, I just wish they had scrapped and rewritten the last half.