“From the producers of Paranormal Activity and Sinister” – hold on, that’s not right.
“From the producers of PA and Insidious” – wait, that’s not it either.
Before Sinister and after PA, came Insidious – right, I got it now!
In an age where every new horror seems to be tag-lined with “the scariest movie in years” and “from the producers of…” the chill factor conveyer belt keeps on churning at a frenetic rate. Is it likely to slowly and surely dilute the well gotten gains of PA, the standout frightener of recent years for me?
In danger of mind-melding myself after recently watching Sinister, this similar horror-chiller offering from the director of Saw, blazed the same trail prior with spooky bump in the night happenings in eerie houses and freaky child bothering entities.
Treading much of the same ground as PA, without the real cam angle, the same opening door frights, thuds and chills are effective in an immensely taught first half where Insidious refreshingly diverts soon in; a house move for the victimised family as son Dalton falls into a mysterious coma soon after Rose Byrne’s mum, understandably, can’t take much more of the unexplained paranormal violence as absentee Dad, Patrick Wilson saunters along, blissfully ignorant?
Just like PA, the brilliant device of, not the house but the person being hounded works a charm as the same strange happenings continue and worsen as all manner of outer world beings project into our realm; appearing without warning within continuous tracking shots, often outside of the predictable cover of night, making Insidious deliciously edgy.
That is until a potentially disastrous turn of plot and pace that undoes some of what the first half achieves plagiarising Poltergeist with the appearance of psychic Elise (Lin Shaye) and her Ghostbusters, along with one over expositional passage that numbingly explains the reasons for the lad’s sorry state, a nether world called “The Further”. Another segment from slightly creepy grandma Barbara Hershey reveals a pivotal family secret and a very disturbing silhouetted beast to give a genuinely chilling piece of imagery, but the later reveal doesn’t quite match the unseen shadowy (Phantom – you’ll see) Menace and mystery.
But the offering of another worldly space and time explanation adds something to the well-trodden premise of child possession; it just lacks the required delivery to feel in-keeping with the mystery prior.
Once within “The Further” it all gets a little predictable and silly, but a brilliant sucker punch finale goes some way towards rescuing proceedings.
When effectively done, as is most of the better first half, there is much to admire here. With some genuine goosebump inducing imagery proving to be more powerful than the reveal, Insidious is still a decent fright vehicle overall.
We can expect more “from the producers of…” in next year’s sequel, but for now those manufacturers have still managed to keep their brand of horror neat, rather than completely watered down.