Insidious: A Retrospective Review
What Makes Insidious Different From Other Scary Movies?
Most thriller movies build in intensity. As time goes on, the typical scary film will increase in suspense, culminating in a climax of tension and occasionally ending with some sort of closure or conclusion. James Wan, however, has directed a movie with a very atypical approach to psychological stimulation. Without veering to far from traditional structure, Insidious portrays tremendous scenes of terror, concluding in a climax that unites the plot with the various thrilling scenes as much as it stimulates the mind.
The movie is about a family who battles a demonic being that is desperately trying to posses their comatose son. The first "tremendous scene of terror" involves a strange character that randomly appears in the family's house, driving the wife to tears and momentarily battering the husband. Unlike many scary movies, the invader is not the plot's primary source of terror and its identity is not known until much later on. Similar characters make thier appearance before the family learns what is actually taking place. This involvement of "lesser" scary beings contributes to the mystery and therefore tension of the movie, not to mention increasing the viewer's horror when the true source of terror is revealed. This coordinated progression does not mimic typical horror film routine, however, it depicts multiple intense scenes of terror that go largely unexplained until the movie's climax.
The film's most intense scene, in my opinion, is very short but summarizes the brilliance of Insidious. The family is discussing the grandmother's recurrent dreams involving the unconscious son. A camera shot of the husband suddenly reveals the disturbing image of a demonic-looking face. This scene neglects to incorporate the usual progression of psychological stimuli that precludes most scary events, resulting in a spine- chilling, uncomparable surge of terror. Insidious portrays several of these incidents that break the dull-drum of everyday life with mind-numbing mystery and psychological terror.
Perhaps my second favorite scene finds the mother taking out the trash (yet another daily occurance), but is confused when she catches a glimpse of someone inside the living room dancing to music; music that was not playing seconds before. Rushing inside she follows suspicious noises around the house before being surprised by a little boy who bursts out of the closet. The music could not of been more appropriate, Tiny Tim's famous Tiptoe Through the Tulips. This is one of the all-time creepiest scenes I've ever beheld on television.
Another disturbing scene takes place when a spirit guide tries to contact the son with her assistants and the parents onlooking. The interaction goes fairly well until a demonic being catches wind of the conversation and crashes the party. This culminates in the demon apparently possesing the young boy and roughing up the assistants, the parents, and the spirit guide.
The movie's climax consists of the boy's father traveling into the "Further", a spirit world where the boy is being held captive. Then he must battle dead souls and the demon, and then return with his son to their house before the rest of the family is overtaken with the souls of the dead who are clambering for a body to posses in order to live again.
The entrance of the spirit guide marks an important part of the plot. Up until the mother calls the guide for help, the family has simply run from the supernatural influence, hoping that the boy would awaken after relocating and moving away from their first house which was thought to be haunted. But now the guide actually makes attempts to contact and recover the boy, going on the offensive which illicits action from the demon. The spirit guide also provides valuable information which begins to pull the plot together and inform the family of exactly what has been going on.
Insidious has ruined every other scary movie for me, due to its sudden, unparalleled scenes of intense terror. Perhaps it is a personal glitch in my own brain that preferes spontaneous surges of undeniable horror, as opposed to its gradual increase, however, either way I deem Insidious as a strikingly unique psychological thriller that will blow your mind at the most random times and keep guessing to the very end.