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May 10, 2012

When I was 12, Disney Channel’s first paranormal private investigator show, “So Weird,” changed my life. A pre-teen version of “The X-Files,” “So Weird” expanded my 12-year-old mind from its primary focus on boy bands and pop culture to an extended interest in the mysteries and folklore’s of life. I soon became fascinated by the idea of spirit animals, sirens, time warps, and mischievous little spirits like the Will-o’-the-wisp. After some in-depth internet researching at the time, I became an aficionado on astral projection, or the ability to travel without the body. I remember sitting in a chair meditating for what felt like hours in an attempt to leave my body and travel the world using only my mind. Needless to say the only place I traveled to was Boresville and I quickly abandoned the idea of astral projecting, not thinking much else about it until seeing Insidious.

After moving into a new home, Renai (Rose Bryne), Josh (Patrick Wilson) and their three young children attempt to get adjusted. However, almost immediately strange things began to take place, persisting when  their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) goes into the basement and is frightened by something. The next day Dalton doesn’t awake from sleep and Renai and Josh discover that he has fallen into an unexplained coma. As Dalton’s coma continues over the next few months, he is moved back home where stranger happenings began to take place. Renai and her youngest son, Foster, begin to hear the thumps of someone walking, ominous voices in the baby monitor and Renai begins to see strangers in their home. With Josh working long hours and in denial, Renai contacts his mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), and her clairvoyant friend Elise (Lin Shaye) to investigate. Elise reveals to the family that Dalton has been astral projecting in his sleep, or leaving his body in a catatonic state while his mind travels to different realms, and he has inadvertently traveled too far into “The Further,” a place where lost, and at times evil, souls wait to reconnect with a body; the most evil of them of all wants Dalton’s body. Renai and Josh must find a way to save their son and themselves from evil and torture.

As a pretty hardcore horror fan, I base the “goodness” of a horror film on its ability to either terrify me or at least creep me out and Insidious definitely creeped me the hell out. It took me over a month to finally watch Insidious because I wanted to do so under “perfect” conditions. Finally the time came, I had the house to myself and no plans on a Saturday night, so I turned off every light in the house, made a fort out of pillows on my sofa and had my trusty glass of movie watching juice within arms reach. About halfway into the film my bladder called for a bathroom break, I’ll blame the influence of the alcohol, but the trip to the bathroom was pleasantly terrifying as I had already started seeing things out of the corner of my eyes and my already black house seemed menacingly opaque now that the idea of demonic spirits wanting to inhabit my body had been incepted into my mind.

I give kudos to director James Wan of Saw acclaim (he directed the first and only worthy one) for magnificently beautiful scenes of foreshadowing as wells as visually stunning and terrifying long takes. Insidious‘ opening scene starts with a close-up on a ball of white light, the scene then fluidly pans out to a medium shot revealing to the audience that the white ball is a light fixture and we are in a bedroom. The camera continues on moving from the light fixture to pan out into a room and then slowly glides down a hall in one smooth shot until it lands on a menacing figure who blows out at a candle blackening the scene. The scene sets the stage for a slew of dream like shots that tie in with the theme of spiritual exploration and paranormal occurrences. Through these slow deliberate shots, a tension of uncertainty is created, making viewers anxious but never quite sure of what lies next.

While Insidious is down right creepy, it’s not a perfect film. The writing is a bit faulty and at times parts drag on. The development of characters lacks as wells, especially for Wilson’s character whom the film attempts to focus on outside of the house but seems to forget his side story by making him oblivious to his own self towards the film’s end. And while the climax of Insidious is a bit of a shocker, its preceding scenes don’t tie in well enough to fully buy the ending. Nevertheless, aside from its flaws Insidious is an entertaining and noteworthy film for its uniqueness and ability to send chills down trickling ever so slowly down a spine. I admit, afterwards I was a bit scared to look in a mirror in fear that some demon with a face of fire would be looking back at me over my shoulder. It’s not the scariest film but its a damn good horror movie done right.

SEE IT. If you like the horror genre then do yourself this favor.

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