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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Review: Insidious

Director: James Wan
Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
Year: 2010

It’s not an exaggeration to say that in any conversation about contemporary horror the name James Wan must appear. Wan conquered the horror world in 2004 with “Saw” and it can be argued that this movie gave way to the subgenre later named as torture porn by breaking the current horror movie blueprint. A few years later, after working on “Dead Silence” which was not as successful as it was expected to be, Wan once again conquers horror cinema with “Insidious” the movie that concerns us today, and three years later he does it again with “The Conjuring”

Besides the success of each individual movie, “Saw”, “Insidious”, and “The Conjuring” gave way to good and profitable franchises, each one setting the basis of the horror genre they represent. Going back to “Insidious”, this movie gave way to three more sequels and with good reason; this is one of the best horror movies of the last decade. In “Insidious” we follow the Lambert family when one of their children goes into a coma without any explanation, at the same time when paranormal events start taking place in their house. 

From the opening credit scene, two things are evident: how different and particular the sound effects are and its unique cinematography. In the sound effects, we are introduced to a conglomerate of stringed instruments that produce that strident sound in the opening scene that keeps being used in different moments in the way of dissonant chords that help keep the viewer in an alarm state and adds tension to the jump scares.

On the cinematography, cold colors dominate and a very particular directing style for presenting the events. Something this movie does well is that each jump scare is justified with an event that moves the plot and not just put in with the sole purpose of being scary.  Many of these moments are unexpected and in part, it is because of the unique style in which this movie is directed. It always feels like something new and foreign to what we usually see in horror cinema, which doesn’t have a reference for the viewer to be prepared for. Wan also uses horror movie clichés to distract the viewer and caught it off-guard in an original way. Almost 10 years after being released and even after watching it several times, it’s still as effective as the first time.

The acting in this movie is excellent. I cannot think of a better cast for this movie by how well the current one works. The main cast is composed of Patrick Wilson (“The Conjuring”), Rose Byre (“X-Men: Apocalypse”), and Ty Simpkins (“Jurassic World”), and every actor and actress understands its role and make the characters theirs, making it easier for the viewer to fall into the intriguing story. Scenes like that of Elise, interpreted by Lin Shaye (“Room for Rent”), simply looking at the corner of a room describing what she sees is frightening without the need to show anything besides her and one of her companions taking notes.

James Wan has been one of the most important persons in modern horror cinema and “Insidious” is his best work in the genre. It brings a unique style that meant a breath of originality in a genre that had started to pile up remakes and adaptations. “Insidious” is a frightening movies that does not neglect its style or compromises the story just to set up a jump scare and does the contrary, it sets up the jump scares inside a story that is extremely interesting. This movie quickly became a horror movie fan favorite, and this has not changed and with good reason.

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