It’s fair to say the horror genre hasn’t exactly been awash with great ideas lately. If there’s not a film coming out about a possessed child playing silly buggers with the household fixings, it’s a film about a group of teenagers (who are so pretty it actually makes me genuinely angry) trying to scream their way out of an encounter with a masked mental patient trying to cut their nipples off with a butter knife. And when the film industry does try to break away from the monotony they come up with the stupidest ideas I’ve ever seen, such as Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus. So has Insidious managed to bring some much needed innovation to the horror genre? Well, no. It’s a movie about a possessed child, so it loses about 20 trillion originality points right from the start, but we need to be professional about this. So here goes…
If you want a basic idea of what the fiilm’s about, then here it is. It’s 2 parts The Exorcist to about 3 parts Poltergeist with a little bit of Amityville Horror thrown in for good measure. I don’t know, maybe there was a minimum number of movies they had to rip off before the studio got on board. What’s weird, though, is that the film-makers have managed to rip off so many movies yet still make it not bad. They seem to have taken the best bits from each film (and congrats to them for finding any good bits from The Exorcist) and moulded them into a film that isn’t particularly original yet still manages to hold its own in the world.
So the plot is this. A family moves to a small suburb somewhere in middle America, where everything seems to be going well until their little kid decides to go looking around in the attic for no reason whatsoever. Long story short, the kid gets possessed and the family spend an hour and a half trying to un-possess him, all the while being haunted by Darth Maul. You think I’m kidding? Look it up. When that red bugger turned up the whole audience sat there screaming, while anyone who’s ever paid attention to The Phantom Menace was yelling “…. really?!” Remember earlier when I mentioned originality? Better make that 25 trillion points. Eventually the child’s mother realises that screaming, crying and generally being a bit of a wuss about the whole situation is getting her nowhere and so decides to bring in professional help, and it’s at this point that the plot goes what is scientifically known as absolutely mental.
The father decides that bringing a priest in to help the kid is a bloody stupid idea, but for some reason has no problem allowing a psychic he’s never met before and her gang of idiots into his house on the basis that his mum knew her once. After trying and failing to shoe-horn in a slight comedic edge with the poor man’s Ghostbusters, the psychic lady tries a séance while wearing a gas mask for no reason whatsoever. Turns out the kid likes to have out-of-body experiences just like his dad, so the dad has to go into a dream and save the son because… well, I don’t know, I’d kind of switched off at this point to stop my brain dribbling out through my ears.
So the premise and the plot aren’t exactly awe-inspiring, but surely the characters will be good enough to make Insidious a smash hit? Well, again, no. Like in absolutely any horror movie every single character seems to have had their common sense glands removed and gone through several botched lobotomies. I honestly lost count of the amount of times those morons went up in a spooky attic on their own, or went wandering off without showing even the slightest bit of concern for the massive demon resembling Hell on toast chasing them across the country.
I know there are some people who are quick to praise how scary it is, but it’s not actually that scary a film. It mainly startles, which is okay, but when you’re making a horror film you need to have a good few scare moments in it. I counted about 2 genuinely scary moments, which is okay, but not brilliant if you’re trying to make the horror movie event of the year.
So I guess that if I was going to sum it up in 3 words it would be “competent but uninspiring”. I’m going to be fair, The Blair Witch Project is still the scariest film I’ve seen, and Insidious comes a hell of a lot closer to being as good than a lot of other films I’ve seen. It’s riddled with clichés, the film is shot with a blue filter so strong you can’t tell what the blood hell’s going on for most of the film, and you can probably guess the big twist ending about 20 minutes before it actually happens, but it’s still a decent enough film to be worth the effort of seeing. Or alternatively, to get exactly the same effect, you could just watch Ghostbusters and The Phantom Menace at the same time on different screens and have someone jump out from behind a cupboard and yell “boo!” every 5 minutes. (Or you could just watch The Phantom Menace on its own, it’s just as terrifying).
Coincidentally I’ve watched Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, and it’s actually pretty good, so long as you watch it while either drunk or high…