Horror movies have to do something new and unique to make any sort of lasting impact or distinguish itself from the crowd. In a field where there are increasing franchises, churning out similar versions of the same type of movie, any horror film is forced to do something that distances itself from its rivals. Paranormal Activity managed this by launching found footage, Saw added twists, turns and gore to launch its own style of horror franchise and Insidious tries to build its own identity, taking something familiar and adding a brand new element.
For the first half of the movie, Insidious isn’t offering anything new. It’s just the same style of movie which we have seen many times before. A haunted house which is moving objects, making weird noises and increasing the jumps, tension and terror with every silent, eerie scene. It’s done very well, making great use of a piano or a baby-monitor, but is hardly offering anything brand new or unique.
It is with the introduction of ghost-expert Elise, played by Lin Shaye, which changes the movie to something different. This isn’t a movie about a haunted house but a movie about a haunted boy. Possession, other-dimensions and travelling between (scary) worlds, transforms the movie into something much more interesting.
Interesting being the key word. It keeps your interest long after the scares and shocks. In fact, once we discover this new aspect of the movie, the film stops being an effective, jumpy, horror and isn’t scary at all anymore. It is very cool though and you want to follow and discover how the story will pan out, even it stops being the horror you thought it would be. It also has a great ending and could very well launch a decent franchise, if the movie can build on the effective elements it has introduced here.
Overall, Insidious is a surprising horror movie which goes from the usual, jumpy, haunted house clichés to something much better and much more interesting. This new element stops it being as scary and tense as it is in the beginning but it replaces this with what could be a good element for a much better franchise.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)