In the past two days, I’ve written reviews of The House of the Devil and The Babadook. Today, I want to talk about Insidious, and though I did not plan it this way, my talking points here are going to draw heavily from both of those reviews. Insidious sort of splits the middle between the two other films—or at least between the effects that those others had on me.
Insidious is about a young boy who falls into an extended sleep, though doctors note significant differences between his condition and what we normally call a “coma.” Long story short: we find out that there is some supernatural stuff going on here. As I said in my review of The House of the Devil, hauntings and possessions aren’t really the things that get me truly scared. Sure, I’ll hop at a few jump scares (and Insidious has them), but the subject matter itself doesn’t disturb me. For comparison, a non-horror movie like Prisoners, in which the enemy is very human, makes me shiver. This is obviously because I find the threat of the supernatural to be too unreal, too disconnected from everyday life, to be a viable fear. Such a conclusion holds up to Insidious. Aside from the aforementioned jump scares and funky costume and makeup design, I wasn’t all that terrified while watching this film. However, the movie forced me not to treat it as a farce or a B-movie, fit mostly for popcorn entertainment, because of its second essential element.
Like The Babadook, parental love is at the heart of Insidious. I won’t spoil the ending or anything, but the relationship between parent and child is the focal point of the film. This single fact and the surprisingly nuanced handling of it (especially the notion of parents or genetic lineage passing on past problems) made me take notice of the film and get over its supernatural slant. The movie is really about the lengths to which a parent will go to save his or her child. And I can connect with that. What also helped was the way that movie made no bones about its supernatural angle. I felt like there was sufficient emphasis on the other-worldly toward the beginning of the film to warrant its eventual payoff. In comparison, I think what bothered me about The House of the Devil was that it felt very grounded in real-world reality for too long, and then all of a sudden weird stuff started happening. In Insidious, I knew from early on that things were going to get weird.
As far as rating the film goes, I’ll put it this way: I don’t necessarily think it warrants a second viewing, but I do plan on watching its sequels, which I’ve heard are pretty good as far as sequels go. That should help you gauge the quality of Insidious.
Add me on Letterboxd to see what movies I’m watching.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a review of It Follows.