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The return of haunted house movies
Does anyone remember the good old days when horror films used to take place in a haunted house? Where the horror was depicted solely through atmosphere, creepy music, and slow build up to the climax where the supernatural being would finally reveal itself? Where horror didn't have to be uber realistic with the shaky cam style of the "Blair Witch Project", and the story could naturally build up the horror? Well this is kind of a return to that era of films, but it's about as scary as watching an episode of "Sesame Street." Wait, I take that back. I think "Sesame Street" is way scarier than "Insidious", as you got to watch out for that Count guy. I know he's scary as hell if you try to count numbers with him. Ha ha ha! Of course, I am exaggerating quite a bit with the whole "Sesame Street" reference, but I'm sure most of my readers get the idea...."Insidious" isn't that scary.
In hindsight, "Insidious" has all the elements to make another terrifying haunted house film. You have a unsuspecting family that moves into an old house, with dim lighting throughout most of it; which makes it perfect for there to be plenty of shadows and creepy noises coming from the darkness. The house has a lot of rooms, has staircases and it even has an attic to boot. You have a absentee father figure who's busy at work most of the time, then labels the mother crazy because the supernatural elements only appear when she's alone in the house, at first. Gee, how quaint? Why is it that husbands never believe their hysterical wives when they see ghosts in films? Then again, I guess it's easier to buy into the concept of.."Oh, my wife must be crazy"; rather than buying into the fact that there's an invisible boogey man on the loose.
The Lambert family is just a normal well to do family from the suburbs. Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) are happily married, and they have two adoring little boys. Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is the most curious of the two brothers, as he wanders off inside the house alone; eventually making his way to the attic. From there, he falls off the ladder that causes him to go into a terrible coma. However, the story doesn't end there. Have you ever heard of an outer body experience? If you haven't, then I'll gladly explain it. An outer body experience is described as an incident where the soul leaves the body temporarily. Unfortunately, Dalton strays too far once his soul leaves his body into a mysterious supernatural realm called "The Further."
Now, with the help of two psychics, Josh must enter into "The Further" in order to save his son. Unfortunately, as he tries to enter to save his son's soul, the evil boogey man haunting that realm is desperately trying to enter our world as well. Possessing the poor little boy's body, as the two dimwitted psychics are almost powerless to stop it without Josh's help.
Indeed, this film pretty much has all the fixings you'd expect from a haunted house film which sadly means it's not original. Hell, it's not even remotely scary. Sure, there's plenty of plot twists, scary music, tension building, and plenty of creepy noises to maybe frighten a few novice movie viewers for maybe like one or two minutes. However, if you're expecting this film to leave a deep psychological imprint in your mind where you'll be having nightmares for days, then you'll be very disappointed. If anything, you might actually find yourself laughing at how ridiculously stupid this film actually is, as the characters in this movie come off as rather unrealistically stale with hardly any emotion. As for the ghost of this movie? As I said earlier, the Count from "Sesame Street" is way more scarier than this buffoon of a ghost.
Although to be fair, I thought the first half of the film does an excellent job building up to the climax, but the second part of the movie really underwhelmed me. As there was so much build up to what could've been a potentially great horror film then when you get to the ending, it's just one huge disappointment as it almost comes off as laughable rather than sending any sort of chills down your spine.
Overall, I'd have to give this film a one and a half out of four. If it had been even remotely scary, then I might've given it a higher rating. However since that's not the case, then I'd say one and a half out of four seems fair. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "Insidious" is a completely bad film, as I'm sure fans of the haunted house sub-genre of horror movies will probably still come to like it anyway. Unfortunately, I just wish it could've been more than what it actually was.