Director: James Wan
Running Time: 1hr 42mins
The horror genre has largely become a sea of remakes based on past formulas. The genre is cyclical and self-repeating: the slasher, a possessed child, some sort of demonic presence bullying a family etc etc. It’s a tough genre to be original in, but despite the odds being against him, director James Wan has managed to make a horror film that does just that within the boundaries of convention.
The plot is simple; a young family move to a new house and suddenly one of their young boys, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), falls into an unexplainable coma. Soon strange events begin to haunt the house. Dalton’s mother, Renai (Rose Byrne), begins to see and hear strange things. Unable to cope with events as they escalate, Renai forces her family to move again to escape the entities, however we soon find out that it’s not the house that’s haunted, but the boy. Renai and her husband Josh (Patrick Wilson), have to find a way to get their son back before they lose him for good.
Admittedly, as plots go it’s quite unoriginal, it is Poltergeist reinterpreted. But as discussed, it’s difficult to make original horror so that isn’t of much concern, what is of concern is the director’s ability to tell the story and scare the audience, which Wan achieves with great success. From the opening scene to the films close there is an unrelenting sense of ominous gloom that leaves the audience on edge for the entirety. Special mention must go to Joseph Bishara who scored the soundtrack, its malevolent, foreboding nature works in tandem with Wan in producing unease in the viewer.
It’s the usual haunted house type of scares, someone hears a strange noise, they go to investigate, the camera pans slowly into the room before suddenly we and the protagonist see some strange face in the corner and everyone’s heart momentarily stops. Again, not original, but Wan’s timing and placement of these set pieces genuinely are surprising and unnerving. One particular scene involving a young boy dancing is especially nerve shattering. The mysterious entities are especially creepy in appearance, at times quite reminiscent of the ghouls in the Evil Dead in fact, which makes their foreboding presence in house even more uneasy to watch.
The plot cannot be further elaborated on before giving too much away, but if you want to be quite terrified for an hour and forty-odd minutes then there’ll probably be no better film to do so this year. If you have any serious cardiac issues then best avoid it, but if you have a fascination for fear and the macabre then Insidious should rub you up the right way.