Monday, 24 October 2011

Is Insidious just TOO similar to Poltergeist?


One of the biggest horror films of early 2011, Insidious is a popular horror film from Saw creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell and Paranormal Activity helmer Oren Peli. Why? I do not know.


A haunted house film about a family that move into a new house, just to have the son go into a coma after seeing something inexplicable in the attic. The mother, Renai (Rose Byrne) experiences some paranormal events and the family move house, only to have the occurrences continue. It comes down to calling in the paranormal investigators and psychics, who explain the son has astral projected himself and wandered too far from his body to get back without the interference of demons.

The poor little boy...

What follows includes back story to drive our third act, an ending, an ending, and a twist ending. Don't worry, even a blind person could foresee the surprises.


What does this all add up to? Well, the first 40 minutes have some decent jumps and thrills, as does the final few minutes. The rest? Meh. So many of the scares are a bit too obvious for my liking, undermining the uncertainty factor of 'did I see something out of the corner of my eye?'. However, I did get freaked out by my own reflection while making some tea (which I am enjoying while writing this entry. Yum.), so something has to be said for that. 


Patrick Wilson plays the father, Josh, and outperforms everyone else in the cast (bar Leigh Whannell. He's always great). I shouldn't have been rooting against Rose Byrne as I did, but let's put it like this, it's a good thing she isn't the main focus of the whole film. The ghosts themselves are a bit of a hit and miss bunch. Our lead villain has a great vaudevillian tone to him, always welcome. Some of the others are cliché, though they do have their moments. The final act exploration of the house is at the very least engaging in its portrayal of dark memories and the other side.

Craig T.... I mean, Patrick Wilson as the dad. 
Featuring Darth Maul, apparently.

Overall, there's no big shakes here. There are some creepy moments and, though maybe a bit derivative of Paranormal Activity, the plot is quite strong. I'm a big fan of Wan, Whannell and Peli, and they made a solid average horror flick. And they get points for originality. Oops, wait, I mean they must have been watching Poltergeist all the way through the creation.


It must be difficult to make a haunted house film when there have really only been two name players in the genre (Poltergeist and The Haunting), but here we have the young child, the young parents, being stuck on the other side, the paranormal investigators, the videotaping, the psychic, and the harmless and the malevolent ghouls who trick the kid. The list goes on. The 'convincing' ending followed by another climax is one of Poltergeist's crowning achievements. Hell, even Patrick Wilson has more than a passing resemblance to Craig T. Nelson.


Lin Shaye as the psychic.


I'm not going to be harsh here. They knew they were referencing Poltergeist, what with the stakes on Whannell's face on the kitchen counter, and I am happy to revel in a film that knows where to pay homage. It's just the attention the film got also must make it all that more relevant to point out its roots. We can't have people new to horror not knowing about Poltergeist!


The monster attacks Rose Byrne.

With some luck, someone out there who loved Insidious has stumbled upon this blog, never having heard of Poltergeist, but now knows better. Trust me, imaginary adventurer, even though the films are similar, don't forget to check out Poltergeist!


Hopefully you will be another convert!