Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 Days of Horror: Insidious

2010, James Wan (the original Saw guy) -- download

Ignore the misleading poster art which, I believe, depicts the son that is only a background character.  Insidious is not another bad seed movie but, surprisingly, a Poltergeist for the 21st century.  Well in structure, at least, if not... about ghosts.  Well, kind of ghosts. Its all semantics.

The Lamberts have just moved into a gigantic house, arts & crafts style and gorgeous, with their two boys. Josh (Patrick Wilson, who is not seeing the ghost of his wife) is a teacher and Renai is a ... song writer?  The house is one of those big, empty feeling places that just begs to be haunted and the music, discordant conceptual stuff, sets us in that mindspace.  And I don't know what had me on edge so quickly, but the movie was pushing my buttons very early on.  Not only does their son Dalton see something in the shadows of the attic but soon after he falls off the ladder, he is found in a coma.  No explanations.

Three months pass and Dalton still is in the coma. He lies in his bed because the medical establishment has no understanding of his condition and has sent him home. And his mother begins seeing and hearing things that just had me crawling up on the sofa.  Nope, no feet hanging over the edge for me. Ghostly figures walking on her balcony and reaching through the window. There is no real explanation why one thing has you starting and squeaking "eeep!" where another movie would have you rolling your eyes. The sound, the state of of suspense and the effects actually had me nervous. I was into the movie.

Completely terrified of the haunted house, the Lamberts move to another smaller place but alas, the spirits seems to have followed them. She sees a small child running from room to room, laughing, more giggling evilly and when she tries to confront it, she sees not a child but something... else.  Josh's mother has joined them, helping them settle in, and states emphatically she believes Renai. She explains she has been dreaming and seeing a dark creature. Things escalate violently which lead to a paranormal investigation team being invited in.  Of course, they get their pants scared off them.

The movie takes a strange twist in this act as the comic relief of the two ghost chasers with their (homemade) ghost busting equipment and competitive nature releases the tension of the movie's first act.  Add in their own additional expert; she explores Dalton's room using directed drawing and a mystique reminiscent of Tangina Barrons from Poltergeist.  She then explains that this is not a straight haunting but that Dalton is astral projecting, a traveller, who has lost his body.  And the malicious entities present are from that world where Dalton is lost. They see an opportunity of an empty body and want it.  Not only this but Josh Lambert is also a traveller, who as a child was stalked by a haunting image of an old woman.

What I don't get is that Josh wants to deny this is going on.  Maybe its too much for him, maybe he is doing his typical running from stress, but he rejects their offer and wants them gone. Not until he sees the evidence in Dalton's drawings, including the evil entity with a flaming face, is he convinced.  And into the Further he goes, chasing his son.  Here the movie is less scary and more adventure as we know he will rescue his son and all will come out OK.  The Further, and its inhabitants is less scary and more just disturbing and creepy.  Even the dark man with the red face looks more like an old man in bad makeup, albeit with tale & hooves, and less the terrifying shadow with glowing eyes and long claws from earlier.  And of course, John does succeed and gets his son back into his own body.

But guess what happens to Josh once he is reunited with that old lady from the photos of his childhood?