Thursday, November 13, 2014

Insidious


2010  *1/2

Or as I like to call it, Insidpid...ous!  Anyone?

Okay I know that's not so great, but the only emotional places this movie struck me were various points on the annoyance-to-rage spectrum.  Nossir, I didn't like it.

It's possible my feelings were adversely affected by JPX's review of the sequel (which I read the day before I watched this), but I sincerely doubt it.  Actually I think that review just helped me better define my anger as it swept over me, especially this delicious quote from director James Wan himself:

“What I like to do with the soundtrack is set you on edge with a really loud … atonal scratchy violin score, mixing with some really weird piano bangs and take that away and all of a sudden, you’re like, 'What just happened there?'"

For me this translates directly as "I don't know what I'm doing."  I mean, jeez, that's every bad thing we ever say on this blog about the music and sound design in American horror movies rolled into some kind of mission statement.  That's like hearing Michael Bay say "What I like to do is get some army guys and some robots and bkkeewww!  Blamm!  Kaboom!  Pew pew!  And then like tons more of that bullshit until the movie time is all filled up!"  For me the music in Insidious seemed like somebody was rolling a bowling ball around inside a piano, which served less as a soundtrack and more like an annoying distraction.  

Coupled with that was the arrogant notion that you can build a whole movie around "There was an indicator that something or someone was there, but when I checked there was neither anything nor anyone there!  Gaw!"  Don't get me wrong, that tactic can be used to amazing effect, indeed much of my  beloved original Ju-on relies on a variation of that technique.  But it requires some skill; it's not scary on a base level and can therefore be easily abused.  

Take mister Darth Maul ghost up there in the picture.  I'd seen this still before so when the scene started and I saw Dumb Dad with that painting behind him I knew Darth Maul was probably showing up soon.   But I was puzzled, because it just a scene of Dumb Dad sitting around a table talking with his mom and his wife (Barbara Hershey and Rose Byrne, both actresses who I like and forgive for being in this movie).  Sure enough, Barbara Hershey sees Darth Maul behind Dumb Dad and she screams, and then gulp!  He's not there anymore!  

I watched Bob from Twin Peaks advance across the living room and it chilled my blood, but these maneuvers are cheap and artless and deployed all through the movie.  D-minus.

Little did I know it was about to get much worse

Insidious does deserve a technical credit for listening to Eddie Murphy and having the white people in the haunted house move out of the haunted house, but when that doesn't work they revert to type and invite more white people over, led by the impossibly cloying Elise.  I never thought I would ever miss the crazy midget psychic lady from Poltergeist so much.

Should I give credit to JPX's review for influencing my feelings here?  I don't think so, it seemed to come from within, and I hated this woman immediately upon hearing her speak.  It seemed obvious that she was meant to be as friendly, normal and grounded a person as possible to provide a solid basis for the parapsychological jibbity jabber that would soon be coming out of her mouth, but they waaaay overdid it.  Even hearing her ask for tea made me want to slap her, and then when she started saying things like "I believe your son is a very talented Traveler" and "I call it 'The Further,'" I just rolled my eyes.  I think I actually wanted there to be no such thing as ghosts in the movie about ghosts just so I could rub her stupid face in it. 

Besides this series and Sinister, I haven't forayed too deeply into the new generation of haunted house flicks (spawned I guess by the Paranormal series, none of which I have yet seen).  I adored Sinister, but my suspicion is I'll be wading through more experiences like this before I adore another.  I know this flick worked better for some of my fellow Horrorthonners, and I'm truly pleased for you, but Insidious was, for me, a pretty thorough failure.

Coming up next:  I review Insidious: Chapter 2, because I can't resist a good train wreck!

3 comments:

JPX said...

Ha! I love your review and it perfectly captures why I hate this film, and all the films this director has directed. I agree with everything you say and I'm so pleased that you hate the ghostbuster as much as I did. There's just something about her that makes me want to smash her face. I can't wait for your Insidious 2 review!

Catfreeek said...

I don't remember much about this film other than liking a scene that was set to Tiny Tim's Tiptoe Through The Tulips. I also don't remember really hating it but I do remember hating the medium, no matter what that woman is in I can only ever see her as the landlady in Kingpin. Sorry you hated it but I did enjoy your review and look forward to your review of the sequel.

AC said...

This was in our list but we never got to it, maybe we dodged a bullet? Love the review and looking forward to your review of the sequel!