Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #176 Insidious

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Movie #176 Insidious

(2011, US, d. James Wan)

It’s hard to put the right words around this movie, because at times I felt like James Wan was the absolute worst director to handle this project, but then at others, he felt perfect. I’ll start with the most surface level commentary. This film is more than anything, meant to scare the audience. In that regard, tt went far beyond its pay grade. Comparable to The Ring and The Others in delivering the frights it had with the limited MPAA rating it received, Insidious is one of the scariest films to be released on a wide-scale in the last few years. Sure, it still had its unintentionally humorous parts – most of the non-horror sequences had a layer of this – but the smart thing Wan does in this sense is that he never lets a non-horror scene linger for too long. He sets terrifying sequences in the daytime as well as the nighttime, never allowing the audience to truly settle. And granted, I did see this film with an audience full of USC Film kids – so the humor may have alleviated itself with our presence. Now going back to Wan: I didn’t really understand why, but Wan almost never let the camera stop. Even in dramatic sequences, there’s a dolly on everything. You could almost count the stable shots on two hands. At first, this came off as amateurish (reminding me of the overt gaudiness of many South Indian productions) But apart from the motion, the visuals themselves were actually quite exceptional – considering what they were trying to do. Wan’s camera work tries to recreate the classic haunted house story, constantly sweeping through the rooms with an authoritative eye. Combined with the “modern indie filmmaker shaky camera” feel to it, Insidious‘ look is actually quite unique, as it pays homage to nearly a dozen films – both visually and story-wise. With references to Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Others, and The Thing, Wan’s film is more than anything a massive homage to his favorite film, Poltergeist. Though based on a weaker script by writer Leigh Whannell, it’s the actors here who really bring the movie to life. No matter how lucky Wan got with everything coming together, it’s simply due to Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne’s talent and serious acting chops they are able to rise above their material and make the audience take the film seriously. Overall, I believe this will be the next big horror hit, in the vein of The Ring.

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