Insidious (dir. James Wan, 2011) – A young couple seeks help for their comatose child trapped in The Further, a demon and spirit-infested realm.
Bringing back atmospheric horror of the 70s, Insidious delivers rare effective scares.
Spilling blood and ripping innards apart can get you for brief moments. But since the millennium began, horror movies have not sustained terror in their entirety quite like Insidious did.
Following the Splat Pack’s great ambitions, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannel revive the true unadulterated sense of the word ‘horror’. With Dead Silence, they abandon visceral violence for creepy ambience. With Insidious, they find temerity to strip the genre down to its early roots, making minimalist horror work for a modern audience.
The new masters of suspense pay careful attention to design. In the old-fashioned spirit of beloved 70s horror, the movie completes the nostalgic experience with font and sound. They take us into the dark realms of The Further, where a father will do anything to bring his son back.
While the plot draws easy comparisons to Poltergeist, the execution feels original. Perfect pacing ensures that tension never assuages, such that audible nervous screams intermittently resound. There is no room for that pounding heartbeat to slow. Many scare attempts will leave the audience pallid and dare I say, Dario Argento proud.
The haunting atmosphere holds up for the most part, though a little camp slips in. A certain Darth Maul-like demon puts a smile where quivering lips should be. Such is a minor distraction to an otherwise brilliant genre gem. Heading back to basics, James Wan has once again proved his dexterity in evoking fear with horror fundamentals.
Fans of the Wan/Whannel team up (or as I like to call it, Wan-nel) must look out for Billy’s cameo appearance. Perhaps, one may even hear that inner voice to have that tiny chained leg sawed clean off. (Or maybe that’s just me.)