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Insidious revives true terror

By Tucker Clark
posted April 20, 2011

It has been said many times before, and it will be said many times again, the 21st century has not been kind to horror movies. The past decade has been flooded with countless PG-13 movies that loosely wear the tag of horror. They focus more on the sex appeal of their young actors and offer nothing for diehard followers of the genre. But luckily, a glimmer of hope began in 2007 with Paranormal Activity, and it has slowly been getting brighter ever since. The culmination is 2011’s Insidious. Because it was created by the people behind Saw and Paranormal Activity, there were some high expectations, but thankfully for horror fans, Insidious delivers.

The film starts with an extremely clichéd plot: a young couple moves into a new house with their kids and, as if anyone didn’t see it coming, strange things start happening. When the youngest son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins, War of the Worlds) is exploring the new attic, he falls from a ladder. His parents Josh (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen) and Renai (Rose Bryne, 28 Weeks Later) rush to his aid, but thinking he only took a small fall, they put him to bed. However, when Josh tries to wake him the next morning, he doesn’t stir.

They rush him to the hospital, where the doctors declare that he has slipped into a coma, but no medical explanation is given. After three months, Dalton is sent home to be cared for by his mother. Once the comatose boy is returned to the house, the paranormal happenings increase tenfold. Josh then moves the family to a new house, thinking it was the old one that was haunted. Unfortunately, the haunting not only continues, but becomes increasingly violent and hair-raising. Unable to deal with the occurrences, they bring in a paranormal expert, Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye, A Nightmare on Elm Street), who delivers the chilling news that they are in fact caused by Dalton. She explains that demons are trying to possess the body of Dalton, which is why they have been experiencing all the weird phenomena.

Up until about this point of the movie, Insidious is easily one of the best horror films of the last decade, as it is incredibly intense and packed full of scares. The atmosphere is faultless; it brings the tension up to the point where even mundane tasks performed by the family seem downright terrifying.

Yet the film isn’t perfect. Once the family learns of the true cause behind the haunting, the movie gets stranger and stranger to the point of being silly. No spoilers will be given here, but almost every new plot piece introduced in the second half is just ridiculous. This failure of a second act could cripple any lesser movie, but luckily with Insidious, the first act is so strong that the entire film isn’t ruined by the latter half.

Insidious offers a refreshing return to the days of classic horror, when scary was still scary. Filled with plenty of popcorn throwing moments, it is a true treat for someone looking for a good scare. Even though the ending is more than disappointing, the rest of the film is strong enough that it should be seen by any horror fan.

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