Sitting in the cinema with an uneasy smile on my face and a bucket of popcorn on my lap, I was eagerly anticipating what promised to be the ultimate haunted house movie of 2011 – Insidious. The minute the screen went black and the huge, blood-red letters filled the screen, coupled with a nauseating violin backing track, I felt a lump form in my throat.
The film starts like many other, in fact ALL other, haunted house movies- a nice family, who have suffered some form of an unfortunate incident (though it happens after they relocate and not before in this case), move to a new house and soon enough things start to get ‘freaky’.
Parents-of-three, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne), move to a grand, old house and things are starting to look up them – that is until a rather tense scene where their son, Dalton, is exploring the loft when he falls and knocks himself unconscious, falling swiftly into a coma. You would think things couldn’t get worse for the family, but of course with this being a horror film, things become much worse and mother Renai ends up seeing ghosts (some of which are hideously terrifying) – and the odd demon.
We soon find out that their son is not in a coma at all – rather his spirit has lost his body and is trapped in some further land. With the help of Grandmother Lorraine, who has fortunately had a little experience with astral projection, she calls up some people that she thinks could help (cue creepy revelation later in the film) and they attempt to save young Dalton from having his body stolen by an evil demon.
When the loose plot is written like this, I could forgive you for thinking it was quite a weak and that the whole thing sounds damn right absurd. Happily, I can tell you that you’re wrong. Fan of haunted house movies or not, the first half of this film is brilliant and the second half is better than average, though a little cheesy at points. With the genuine scares, some terrifying creations and some beautifully eerie scenes (room of dolls in the Further anyone?!), this is a movie not to be missed.
The first 45/50 minutes was utilised perfectly, building up unbearable tension, with lots of unexpected scares and some clever camera work. In the second part of the movie, the full supernatural element is explained and the plot walks the line between genius and cringe, somewhat evoking Poltergeist, but that might just be me.
It was a great movie to see in the cinema with people jumping, screaming and laughing. The bold music and 70s-inspired scare techniques really added to the experience and I defy anyone not to be enthralled. And if you’re looking for something new to haunt your dreams, I still have nightmares about ‘her’…
All in all, definitely one of the best movies of 2011, in my opinion.