By the time Insidious was released in 2011, James Wan had already launched one huge horror franchise in saw. His 2007 puppet horror Dead Silence didn’t set the world on fire but was still pretty good and very well executed. But Insidious, oh boy, Insidious is where Wan showed just how good he was. The sequel landed two years later, the same summer as The Conjuring. Its not a stretch to say James Wan redefined modern mainstream horror, giving us iconic monsters and heroes. If Insidious didn’t do well, there’s no Conjuring universe. Arguably, Warner bros wouldn’t have green lit their epic two part IT adaption either.
Written by Wan and and his frequent collabortor Leigh Whannel (who also plays Specs), Insidious is the tale of a family who’s son Dalton (Iron Man 3’s Ty Simpsons) falls into a coma and won’t wake up. The house is plagued by spirits, so the parents (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) decide to move. They soon realise its not the house that’s haunted. It’s the boy.
I love Insidious. Sure, it’s almost a remake of Poltergeist, but for me it just connects. It’s scary. Really scary. The jumps are fucking wild and the tension is built from the opening. The characters are relatable and the acting is top notch. Lin Shaye’s psychic investigator Elise is particularly brilliant. Shaye has been one of those “that’s her from…” actors for a long time, but she owns this franchise, showing just how great she actually is. She’s the heart of these movies.
I’m getting ahead of myself again. Insidious was made on a budget of $1 million and grossed over $100 million. For a low budget horror it hides the seams well, it creates a believable sense of dread and fear, but most importantly it knows what it is. It doesn’t try to be too much. It gives us “the further” the dimension ghosts exist in, but it doesn’t make it too extravagant. Minimalist set design and fog hide the world around us, making it scary and keeping the budget down. Honestly, its incredibly well done and shot perfectly.
I can’t rate this film highly enough. As a stand alone, it’s incredible. For a franchise starter, it’s even better. The mythology is rich, expanded in each sequel. 2018’s Insidious The Last Key even managing to stay fresher than most franchises are 7 years in, making another huge box office splash.
For Fans Of:
The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)
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