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Another Haunted House?
Member Name: cyberem78
Advantages: Horror is effected well.
Disadvantages: Not very original.
Film Only Review:
I am a huge fan of the horror genre but I find it difficult to find many genuinely interesting or original films nowadays. I therefore had high hopes for this 2011 release 'Insidious'. The film is directed by James Wan and it's biggest star is Barbara Hershey, who assumes a supporting role.
The story involves an American family consisting of beleaguered mom Renai, workaholic dad Josh and their three young children. They have just moved into a typical creepy 'American Horror Story' style house when strange things begin to occur. Specifically, a terrible accident involving one of the sons, Dalton, leads to a drastic change of lifestyle. It's after this seemingly random and unexplainable accident that Renai begins to realise that there is something terribly wrong at work in the house.
The story eases us into the lives of the family and this allows us to get to know the characters at the beginning so that we care about their journey throughout the rest of the film. Both of the leads play likeable and interesting people who we can relate to and imagine ourselves being friends with. Although I didn't know the actors in this movie I didn't feel I was missing any big star action nor did I feel that the performances were underpar. The story is really the star here anyway.
A classic haunted house storyline at the beginning of the film quickly turns into something more complicated and dramatic. I enjoyed the twists and turns in the film and although I felt the story borrowed fairly heavily from other horror movies I enjoyed how these influences were played in this film. I specifically felt it was reminiscent of movies like The Changeling and Silent Hill whilst some scenes even seemed to be lending from reality shows like Ryan Buell's Paranormal State.
One thing feels certain and that is that this is made for a 21st century audience who are hungry for regular scares throughout the movie. By that I mean that the shocks and horror plays out exactly as expected. This film is filled with classic horror tropes like the ghost figure floating in the hallway, the face appearing at the window, the ominous grandfather clock, the innapropriately jolly music playing whilst something horrible occurs... However, these classic scary moments are actually effected pretty well here. It feels like a bit of effort and thought went into making these classic scares mean something as well as making them memorable. I particularly love the use of Tiny Tim's oddball hit 'Tiptoe Through The Tulips' during the film as it is the perfect music to send chills up your spine when you hear it playing against the horrific visuals. Whilst there is a little bit of gore and lots of screaming moments the most scared I got was when the horror moments were more contained, quiet or strange.
I thought the build up to the peak of drama was very exciting and there are some great distractions from the intensity when Barbara Hershey (who plays Josh's mother) and her paranormal investigation team turn up. There are some unexpected comedy moments thanks to the brilliant actors who play the geeky, out-of-their-depth ghost hunters.
The unravelling of the plot was satisfying to me and I felt genuinely interested throughout. There are lots of subtle hints and clues which tease the audience and are there to both help us piece together the truth or to set us off course. I had several theories about what was going on throughout the film and they all turned out to be incorrect. It was fun to try and crack the puzzle.
I really liked the end of the movie although it becomes obvious that there has to be a twist in the tale. The twist might be able to be guessed by some viewers and again it is reminiscent of other well known horror movies - I daren't name them here or I'd reveal the twist. However, I did find it genuinely shocking and a satisfyingly horrific end to the whole affair.
Ultimately this is a horror movie that was worth watching. I might be a little immune to the horror genre and didn't suffer from any real jumpiness whilst watching this but my companions were leaping out of their seats at certain moments. As I said above, I was most unsettled when there was something a little weird or crazy going on - the psychologically disturbing scenes had most of an impact for me. This is not a story or a work of directing that hasn't been seen before but it does feel like some work has gone into creating the chills and thrills. I would certainly recommend seeing this if you enjoy a decent horror movie.
Summary: A decent horror film.