Director: James Wan (2010)
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins
The word 'insidious' means to proceed "in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects." Thanks, Wikipedia. Note the word 'subtle' there. Insidious the film is anything but subtle. It's like the plot of Paranormal Activity as retold by Brian Blessed with a speakerphone and a heavy metal band, screaming the whole way through. Not only is Insidious less subtle than Paranormal Activity, it's probably the least subtle horror movie of its generation, employing everything from bright green colour filters to the loudest use of a piano since one was dropped on Wile E. Coyote's head. This is a very loud film in every sense of the word, so much so that it'd be better summed up with a series of screams rather than a conventional title.
One day, little Dalton Lambert (Simpkins) slips into a coma, seemingly without reason or explanation. Momma Renai (Byrne) and Poppa Josh (Wilson) are scared and confused. Even more so when their house shows signs of haunting, all doors being slammed and scary figures appearing in the windows. Psychic Elise (Shaye) is called. She diagnoses that it's wee Dalton that's haunted, and not the house.
Haunted by Darth Maul, apparently. From the introduction of Lin Shaye's psychic (and some much needed comic relief in the form of her comedy sidekicks) Insidious becomes less a haunted house movie and more a shouty musing on astral projection and other dimensions. The best handling of that sort of thing is in James Herbert's brilliant Nobody True. This here isn't particularly atrocious, but nor is it very memorable either. The demon I almost liked, but the more you see of it, the less impressive it becomes. Initially impressive, you'll soon realise that its amalgamation of Darth Maul, Freddy Kreuger and Spider-Man is actually a bit shit and should have stayed behind Patrick Wilson's shoulder.
Being a buffoon and heathen, I rarely notice the background music in movies. With Insidious I couldn't see beyond it. It's perhaps the loudest horror film I've ever seen. Every time anything happens, it's accompanied by a loud hammering of the piano or merciless twanging of a violin. The imagery isn't all that bad though, so the filmmakers effectively telling us when we should be scared feels a bit condescending. It's like the laughter track on a particularly terrible sitcom. "You have to be scared now, by the way."