Now Playing: Insipid ‘Insidious’

Something I’ve heard, when describing ‘Insidious’, the new ooh-spooky horror film from the ‘Saw’ team of director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell (who also acts), is that it’s a horror movie for people who aren’t fans of the genre. What this means, exactly, is beyond me. But I know that it’s really, really stupid. ‘Insidious’ is a terrible movie. Both genre fanatics and casual viewers should be able to recognize that fairly quickly, despite all the distractingly jarring music that tries to convince you that the movie is actually, you know, scary.

‘Insidious’ is your typical haunted house movie – but with a twist, of course. (More on that in a minute.) A young couple played by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne move into a house with their three children. Upon arriving, scary shit starts happening. Books are misplaced, doors creak open, and ghostly apparitions start menacing the living. Things get so bad that one of their sons slips into a “coma” that he’s unable to be revived from (or even be properly diagnosed). When the family has had enough of this spooky behavior (to quote a legendary Christopher Walken ‘SNL’ skit), they move houses… but the haunting continues.

I guess this is where the whole “reinvention of the haunted house genre” (which has been highly touted) comes into play. I’d be hesitant to give away the twist if it hadn’t already appeared on all the internet ads and posters and every other piece of promotional fluff associated with the movie. So, [SPOILER!] the twist is that the family’s young son (the one in the coma) is the one who’s haunted [END SPOILER!].

Pretty soon, a paranormal investigator and her two goonish assistants show up, and she drops a bombshell that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. The young son had the ability to “astral project” his soul out of his physical body. It’s just that his soul never returned to his body, so he’s trapped in a land of scary boogeymen, and said boogeymen are vying for his body. I wanted to scream “I object!” in the middle of the screening. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of weirdo government programs knows that “astral projection” was something the army was up to during Vietnam, and has nothing to do with ghosts. It mostly has to do with a soldier putting himself into a deep trance so he can, feasibly, spy on weapons plants in Russia (or something). It’s based on quasi-spiritual hokum, but it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with ghosts.

While I was on the fence for most of the movie, at this point I checked out entirely. It’s one thing to expect me to be scared by slamming doors and spooky cues on the soundtrack, but it’s another altogether to make me buy into this claptrap. When the filmmakers finally reveal the netherworld (hilariously dubbed “The Further” – what is this, a paperback fantasy novel?), it’s comprised of the same shitty sets and locations, just with the fog machine cranked up to 11. You think I’m kidding? Wait until you see it. I kept thinking about how these dudes must have millions saved up from their involvement with the ‘Saw‘ franchise. Can’t they afford better sets?

The answer is no. But this is keeping with the movie’s general cruddiness, at least. I hated ‘Insidious’, and this is coming from someone who thinks that ‘Drag Me to Hell‘ is one of the best American movies of the past few years. If you like loud noises and clichéd ghosts, feel free to have your pants scared off by ‘Insidious’. I’ll be in the back of the theater, napping.


  1. I agree with Drag Me To Hell. I had never left the theater so unsettled while having so much fun ever before or since. (I’ve seen more unsettling films, but never with the high fun quotient.)

    As for Insidious, I knew I would skip it the moment I saw the television promotion. Thank you for confirming that.

  2. Ah, you enjoyed Drag Me To Hell. That explains why you hated Insidious which BURIES DMTH.

    Insidious was pretty damn cool. 1.5 million budget.

    As far as “astral projection,” there was that episode of the X-Files. They already covered it, so this “new” concept on that subject is welcomed.

  3. I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about this from the horror crowd, but of course a bad review from you I kind of expect for this type of film 😉

    Drag Me to Hell was great, but only as a Sam Raimi fan, it was almost Evil Dead redone for today as it was a really old script that he finally got around to making, but I havent seen Insidious yet to really compare the two

    What I love is the comment about the “jarring” music to attempt scariness, yet you mention Drag Me to Hell in the same sentence as being SO much better, Drag Me to Hell was ALL sounds, while I jumped quite a bit at DMTH, it was all because some loud sound came blaring out of the speaker to go along with some flash monster jumping at the screen, but its NOT cool that Insidious does this? The other reviews I’ve read state just the opposite of you so i’m not sure who to believe quite yet 😉

  4. Bryan

    I saw this with my wife this weekend. I wanted to see “Source Code”, she wanted to see this – we literally flipped a coin and I lost. Having said that, it wasn’t all that bad. My wife is a much bigger horror/supernatural fan than I am, but she seemed to enjoy it – although she did say that once the big “plot twist” was revealed that they could have made it much scarier than they did.

    It certainly had it’s moments, but the opening and closing title card with the shrieking violins was a little much. When will filmmakers learn that that is just annoying – *not* scary…. ???

  5. Shawn

    Where do you think the army got the idea for astrally projected soldiers? They didn’t just come up with it on their own.There’s nothing about it that rules out ghosts or possession.

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