1. Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects
2. Treacherous; crafty
This is one of my recent favorites. It was actually serendipitous that I watched it yesterday. My friends (or friend, if you subtract the one who ran away screaming) and I were planning on watching Philadelphia, but it turned out that we were instead watching this grossly underrated horror classic of recent years. Every time I see this, it just seems to grow better and better. So please allow me to “project” my review of Insidious:
Bottom Line: Heavily misunderstood; lots of fun.
“It’s not the house that is haunted. It’s your son.” –Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins
It’s a bit ironic as well as every ounce appropriate that INSIDIOUS can be defined perfectly by the singular word in its title. Though the film starts out seemingly harmless (save for the ominous, heavy foreshadowing in the title sequence), it climaxes into a creepy mood; before we know it, not ten seconds can be counted in between the horrific scares in the conclusion.
INSIDIOUS is the story of a musically talented woman, her teaching husband, and–among two other young children–their son Dalton. Strange things begin to happen around their new home, starting with Dalton falling off a ladder and departing into a coma. Or that’s how it seems. The family moves, assuming that their house is haunted, only to be then followed by stronger, more personal happenings. They then learn that it is their son that is causing these disturbances, through another “life” he is experiencing.
Though an original horror movie as its own work, INSIDIOUS is also undeniably a compilation of nods to previous horror films. The setting and plot is a sort of POLTERGEIST meets THE OMEN. There are also recent allusions to works the crew has been associated with. The entire film feels a lot like the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series, which was created by producer Oren Peli. Contrarily, there are a few instances when you would expect something different from the makers. This was written by Leigh Whannell and directed by Oren Peli, who brought us SAW back in 2004. I’ve seen INSIDIOUS a few times now, and I’ve always thought it to be the most effective horror movie without using very much violence at all. Yet that other film from these filmmakers is utterly gory and brutal to the very core.
If there’s one recent film that proves what a small production budget can do, it’s INSIDIOUS. Other than the lack of an A-list cast, it’s quite hard to tell that the film yields a budget of $1.5 million and was distributed by an up-and-coming studio called FilmDistrict. I love horror movies, sometimes more than I should, but it’s rare for me to come across one that seems so authentic. The plot may a bit implausible (but an implausible thrill ride), but we’re brought to rethink that once we’ve experienced the masterful camerawork, the startling musical score, and every other technical gem. You know it’s something great when the placement of a song as harmless as “Tiptoe through the Tulips” can scare the living daylights out of you.
I’ve seen INSIDIOUS three times now. I’m willing to see it three times more, because it’s NOT your standard horror movie. Is there a twist ending? Yes. Is there a seemingly possessed character? Uhh, yeah. But is there a well-done plot, a number of memorable scenes, and a sturdy back turned to cheap, underwhelming tactics? Absolutely.