Wednesday, May 18, 2011

INSIDIOUS - Surprisingly Tame

INSIDIOUS (horror thriller)
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson
Director: James Wan
Screenplay by: Leigh Whannell
Time: 102 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

THE SIGN: Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as Josh and Renai Lambert

PREAMBLE: With Malaysian-born James Wan at the helm of Insidious (and teaming again with writer Leigh Whannell) I was expecting some weird thrills and gross torture stuff like they provided in the Saw series. But no, it is apparently some sort of haunted house flick about a suburban family moving into a house and finding things going bump in the night.

Then, a series of horror movie cliches happened and I made a mental check-list of:
☻ dripping faucet (check!);
☻ creaky floorboards (check!);
☻ creaking doors (check!);
☻ blurry images of demons fleeting past the screen (check!).

And I knew I was in for another corny, unintentionally funny B-horror flick.

THE VISITOR: Dalton (Ty Simpkins) lying in a coma

SYNOPSIS: Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) a typical American couple with three young kids, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), Foster (Andrew Astor), and baby Calli. When they move into their new home, Renai discovers a few 'disturbances' but dismiss them off as a result of mental fatigue from the move.

Then, when Dalton falls, hits his head and ends up comatose, they suspect a malevolent force behind the tragic events. Josh's mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) calls in her psychic friend Elise (Lin Shaye) who comes with her ghost-buster technicians (Angus Sampson and Whannell himself).

THE EXORCISM is in session!

REVIEW: During the first half-hour of plot build-up, I had thought that Wan and Whannell had turned their backs on blood and gore and rely on intellectual and psychological scares instead. The first act, which develops Josh and Renai's relationship, looks mighty promising - despite the rather irrelevant dripping faucets and creaky doors cliches. When we get to the second act, the feel and tone shifts from Paranormal Activity to Poltergeist - which isn't that bad when it comes to working up the audience's curiosity.

However, the movie falls apart in the third act - with its Exorcist subplot made worse by an irritating music soundtrack. The few scares are mostly in the first two acts. The third has the most unintentional laughs, not including the comic relief provided by Sampson and Whannel as Elise's bickering assistants.

THE LOWDOWN: Insidious is passable as a horror flick, but I had expected more from James Wan and Leigh Whannell.


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