James Wan, the man, the myth, the legend. He’s known for being possibly the most popular horror director, creating iconic franchises at the very flick of his fingers. Ever since his first horror film SAW, he’s gone on to create masterful horror films such as The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, Death Sentence, and Malignant, which is scheduled for September 2021. Though one of his most overlooked films is Insidious, which lands somewhere in between being iconic, and somewhat the most average piece of horror you’re ever going to find. The thing that places Insidious in such a weird category is due to its story, it’s not very unique nor is it interesting, what makes this film iconic though is the way it’s translated to the screen.
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The Movie Review
Insidious is the story of a family, who recently move to a brand new house and things take a dark turn right then and there. Josh and Renai Lambert, along with their children Dalton, Foster, and their infant daughter Cali move to a brand new house which is a huge upgrade from their previous living space. However, after moving into the new house, an incident occurs that renders Dalton paralyzed into a coma.
Dalton goes through a ton of medical treatment, yet to no avail; the Lamberts bring him back home. This is when the paranormal activities begin; and when the spiritual world begins to collide with theirs as a massive battle for survival ensues through multiple places, multiple people, and even paranormal investigators.
James Wan usually is very adept at crafting a film with just enough jump scares as to not overwhelm you but still keep you in suspense. However, this time around he chose the much more somber approach to his filmmaking, more aligned with filmmakers such as Robert Eggers and Ari Aster.
This slow style of filmmaking would usually enhance the quality of a film like this, yet they don’t in the case of Insidious as it feels more like an experiment than anything. James Wan cannot effectively create this format of storytelling, which is why the direction and the pacing of the film are off by a short margin. Though, it’s still a decently directed film with a little bit of everything combined for a good time.
The performances in the film are actually quite decent, with Patrick Wilson giving an incredible performance that will be both believable and agreeable throughout the film. Rose Byrne’s character of Renai Lambert is also a sight to behold, as she gives one of the best performances of her career in such an average movie.
The stand-out performance here is by none other than Lin Shaye, whose incredibly vital role as Elise Rainier stands out as a highlight from the rest of the crowd within the film. The entirety of the scenes that feature Lin Shaye and Patrick Wilson together are incredibly engaging to watch, with Rose Byrne just being the cherry on top.
The aesthetic is where Insidious thrives the most. It’s colorful, dark, gorgeous, and atmospheric. The film has such a wide variety of vibrant colors, and it meshes them so well with every single horror aspect that it is actually impressive. The spiritual beings, the demonic spirits or the paranormal beings, whatever you might call them are also quite colorful, and super vibrant in their design yet they are so haunting that I still remember a sequence from Insidious almost ten years after first seeing it.
The soundtrack is also something that plays a huge part in this atmospheric and aesthetic design, it’s gloomy, haunting, and absolutely obnoxious yet that is what makes it so purely horrifying.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Insidious is a beautifully vibrant horror film that takes its sweet time in setting up the scenes and builds onto a pretty hefty climax which leads to the sequel. However, it’s plagued by a director who is honestly unsure of what he’s doing with the style of film he is creating. Naturally, the amazing actors deliver praise-worthy performances, and the cinematography and soundtrack add a killer vibe to it that can’t be found in any of James Wan’s other films. If only the film’s story was a bit more unique and catered to the director’s filmmaking style; this could’ve been something entirely different.