Insidious Is Insidious

On Tuesday night, we caught a special "sneak peek" screening of Insidious at the local AMC. Insidious turned out be a suspense-ridden ghost story, jam-packed with content. Today, I'm bringing you a guest post from Nick Sayers, my husband and partner in crime. For the record, I agree with 90% of his review. All in all, it was a great film despite a few quibbles here and there. Without further ado....

Some are marking Insidious as James Wan's return to horror. I mark it as entertainment’s return to horror. Audiences have sat through a decade of J-Horror remakes, media-medium hauntings, and found footage fright fests and for the most part, audiences like it. James Wan is very conscience of this and melds what y2k audiences find scary into a terrific, terrifying film about the nether world of demons, hungry spirits, and how humans experience the spirit world.

The setup of the film starts like many others: new family in a new house. Much like Paranormal Activity, we are acquainted with the house and then shown small, detailed glimpses of changes between daylight hours and nighttime. The turning point is when tragedy strikes the family, as one of their young boys falls from a ladder and ends up in a coma.

 As the haunting comes to fruition, the audience is tricked and lulled into the negative spaces of the frame, which evolves into one of the most intense jumps/scares I have ever experienced in a film. In fact, my legs spasmed so hard I jammed my ankle against the seat in front of me, causing me to have a sore leg. After I came to my senses, I looked around to see if I had been the only one with a strong reaction (out of embarrassment). I breathed a sigh of relief to see most people in the theater were just as shaken. Overall, the first half is a very recognizable love note to old fashion scares, subtle horror, and Judeo-Christian ghost myths.

The second half of the film takes the classical ghost movie setup and creates a vast mythology filled with the nether world, Asian concepts of hungry ghosts, and the nature of demons. I believe Wan's departure from the subtleness of the first half of the film will be the source of most contention for audiences. Some will see the start of the film as a breath of fresh air from J-Horror concepts and more reminiscent of an old fashioned scare-fest. This aspect did not weigh negatively on me, because Insidious expressed a culmination of all the things in ghost movies that have scared audiences for the past fifteen years. It works too. This all comes to light when Elise Rainier, brilliantly played by Lin Shaye, comes to the family as a ghost hunter and "traveler" expert (won't define due to spoilers).

According to Rainier, hungry ghosts appear in the world because they crave life, while demon's slip from the nether to possess and cause pain. Sounds like The Grudge and Paranormal Activity with some tweaks, but Insidious takes it a step further with the nether world, or “the further”. As Wan takes us on the journey to the nether, it turns into a haunted house of scares and evocative imagery, rooting to Wan's love for the "50's nuclear family." To explain the intricacies of this world and its connection to human dreams would spoil much of the film, so you will have to take my word that it's well worth the wait. I will tell you that my own encounter with the climax of the film had me smiling and unnerved at the same time as I left the theater. Mainly because it has been a while since I felt my skin crawl, stomach drop, and my adrenaline surge while watching a horror movie.

At the start of this post, I wrote that I thought it was entertainment's return to horror. I want to be entertained by a horror movie. This is apparent because my favorite horror movies are Evil Dead 2 and The Thing, which are films with no bull-shit entertainment factors. Lately, I feel like filmmakers are trading entertainment for unimaginative remakes (and sequels), obscure art-house duds, and the classic exhibition of the awkward sex-rape-violence triangle to "shock" folks. Rarely is the audience's entertainment an object of attention. With Insidious, it is not only taken into account, it is a focus of the film, taking the viewer into a haunted house and scaring the crap out of them. You will find no awkward female masturbation, Serbian rape, or clumsy rebooting of classics in Insidious. Just an enjoyable ride.

Written by Nick Sayers


Horror Movies That Make Me Happy

The Monster Squad
I only wish had seen this movie when I was a kid, but then again, my tiny head may have exploded out of sheer happiness. This movie will always put a smile on my face. Watching Frankenstein hold hands with little Phoebe is more priceless than any Hallmark moment.
The Lost Boys
This movie was a mainstay of my adolescence (even though it was made the year I was born). The Frogg brothers can easily wipe away any frown, fighting for truth, justice, and the American way...in 80's Rambo-inspired outfits. Heck Yes!!!!
Army of Darkness
The greatest thing about Raimi's film is that it's a gift that keeps on giving. Long after the film is over, you get to revel in quote after quote, finding the ideal situation to say things like "Yeah and I'm a Chinese Jet Pilot."
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Oh yes, the fourth film in the Michael Myers series makes me giddy. Vigilante rednecks, Danielle Harris, and seriously intense face gouging...more please.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
A film that's so clever it inspires me every time I watch it, reminding me why I love the horror genre so much. Plus, it ends with "Psycho Killer" by The Talking Heads. Instant smiles.
The survivors recoil in terror in HATCHET.
A movie that embraces guttural laughter with extreme gore. Anytime I need to cheer up, I can just fast-forward to all of Victor Crowley's scenes.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
There's something undeniably charming about little Corey making the most intricate monster masks, while a hefty collection of teens are dispatched by Jason. Who knew the word "die" repeated dozens of times could be so uplifting?
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
From the Dokken soundtrack to Freddy's campy one-liners, the third Freddy movie is all about making horror fans happy. And this one still has John Saxon in it.


10 Horror Blogger Confessions

1. I'm not a tool. I won't be persuaded to like a film just because it caters to horror fans; I will judge it on its own merits. The only exception is campy films full of gore and nudity made before 1990. Then, I can't help myself.

Did you know that a film can suck, but still be 
considered a classic if Linnea Quigley is in it?

2. I don't jump on any bandwagons. My opinions are my own. However, if the bandwagon happens to be an "edgy" film that hasn't been made cliché by film students yet, then I will gladly hop aboard. Also, wagons involving an intense hatred for something are much easier to ride in.

3. I respect everyone's opinion and encourage comments on my blog...unless you disagree with me, then you're an idiot and have no taste. Of course, I won't actually say that, I'll just tell you that you have "an interesting perspective" or delete your comment.

4. I love independent filmmakers, unless they're successful. Then they're a sellout, whose films never surpass their hype. I'd prefer them to stay homeless, so I can like their films without being called a lemming. 

Did you know that horror bloggers instantly think 
you're cool if you hate Adam Green?

5. Obscure films help validate my opinion, because it's one of the only opinions around. Screeners make me feel important.

6. I track my Google analytics and Followers list religiously. I also spam other blogs with useless comments like, "I liked that movie too. I think you'd like my blog, check it out!"  Still, I don't care about how many followers or hits I have. I do this because I love to write, but I do miss the Horror Blips rankings.

7. I like all of the big names in horror, but just to maintain an aura of objectivity and to garner some street cred, I choose one horror icon to tear down. Argento, Carpenter, Craven....one of you are on my hit list. 

8. Before I finish watching a movie, I've already started writing the review in my head. I take particular joy in thinking about witty remarks to place under the screen captures. Don't worry, I really am paying attention to the movie. 

9. I'm always most impressed by foreign films, regardless of the actual content. Because it is French, it is better. 

Did you know that nihilism and the French language combine
to create an automatic gush fest for bloggers?

10. Any ideas that don't fit into the horror blogosphere trope hold no weight with me. You can never mention the two evil R words: Republican and Religion. I'm all for tolerance, unless you believe in the R words.