Monday, August 15, 2011

It Came From Netflix-Insidious(2011)

By Eric Polk-
Yeehaw! Finally, a horror film released this year I actually enjoy! Top to bottom, a great, scary, psychologically satisfying story that will probably make my top ten list this year.

Renai and Josh Lambert (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) have recently moved into a new house with their three children. One morning, Renai begins looking through a family photo album with her son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins). He asks why there are no pictures of Josh when he was a child. Renai reasons that he has always been camera shy. Dalton tells Renai he is scared of his new room. One day, Dalton hears something in the attic. When he goes to investigate he sees the lipstick Demon ( signified by bones cracking ) off screen and takes a fall when the attic ladder breaks. The next day Josh goes to wake Dalton, but he does not move. They rush him to the hospital where the doctors say he is in an unexplained coma.

Three months later he is still in a coma and they bring him home to care for him.
Over the next few days, disturbing events begin to occur. While Renai plays piano and the baby is sleeping, Renai hears whispering from the baby monitor. Then as she gets closer to the stairs, someone yells "I want it NOW!" causing the baby to awaken and cry loudly. Renai believes the house is haunted and confronts Josh about the events. He does not believe her, so Renai shows him a bloody hand print on Dalton's bedsheets.

Right after, Renai is almost attacked by a man in the bedroom, which triggers the house alarm. Josh rushes to Renai, but he finds no one else in the room. Josh finally agrees with Renai to move. In the new house, increasingly violent and supernatural events begin to happen again, and a strange little English boy runs up and down the halls giggling. Josh's mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), believes Renai's reports of the haunting and contacts a friend, Elise Reiner (Lin Shaye), who deals with paranormal activities. The family, Elise, and her team go into Dalton's room. There, she sees something on the ceiling and describes it to one of her two assistants, who draws it. It is a dark, demonic figure with a red face, yellow eyes, claw-like fingernails, and hooves.

Elise explains to Renai and Josh that Dalton has the ability to astral project. This means that he can wander around the parallel spirit world. But Dalton had wandered too far from his physical body, to a place which she calls "the Further", and interacts with the lost souls of the dead and demons. He does this in his sleep, which he thinks are simply dreams. She also reveals that his astral projection has attracted the powerful demon in the drawing, which has drawn Dalton into "the Further" and separated him from his body in the hopes that he can take it over. Skeptical, Josh disagrees, but later relents when he discovers that Dalton has been drawing pictures of his "dreams" that resemble Elise's descriptions. Elise and Lorraine reveal to the couple that Josh also can astral project, and that he was terrorized by a terrifying spirit during his childhood. Josh's mother shows them pictures from Josh's childhood. In each, a shadowy old woman lurks close behind Josh.

Every picture she seemed to get closer to him. Elise suggests that Josh should use his ability to enter "the Further" and free Dalton's soul. Elise instructs Josh on how to enter "the Further". Josh finds himself walking out of his own body and into a black abyss where he is met by his childhood self. Without speaking, the young Josh points him in the direction of his house. Josh searches the house for his son, encountering other demons along the way such as a quartet of porcelain dolls and a monster with rotted eyes and a long tongue. He finds Dalton chained behind a red door in what is seemingly the red-faced demon's lair. They notice the red-faced demon watching them as Josh carries Dalton back to the house. In search of their physical bodies, Josh and Dalton rush around the house, the red-faced demon behind them. Just before Josh himself escapes by following Renai's voice, he confronts the old woman who appears to be inside his house, along with all the other spirits that have gathered there. He repeatedly yells that he is unafraid of her. The old woman retreats into the house and appears to have been scared off. Josh awakens, as does Dalton.

Later, Dalton, Renai, and Lorraine are eating in the kitchen. In another room, while Elise and Josh packed, Elise notices something strange about Josh's hands. She grabs a camera and snaps a picture of him. Suddenly, Josh goes into a rage and strangles Elise. Renai hears the noise and runs into the room to find Elise apparently dead. She calls out to Josh, but receives no answer. She picks up the camera that Elise used from the floor and screams.

Ok, so the movie itself doesn't scream originality(but few do these days). Yet the acting is superb, the tension builds at a near-perfect pace, the psychological scares are almost on par with The Changling. And, to be honest, I didn't see the twist coming, a sign of a good horror film for me.

In the supernatural horror sub-genre, I think I can put Insidious along side The Changling, Poltergeist, and The Sixth Sense as great examples of otherworldly terror. Good job James Wan and Leigh Wannell!