Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Really Long Review of Insidious

I'm tired, and I'd like to go to bed, but Insidious traumatized me.

Okay - I know what you're thinking. The first time I saw the trailer for Insidious, I thought, "That looks ridiculous and stupid. I don't want to see that." Then Roger Ebert told me it was quite good, and I thought, "Well... maybe."

Me and Eric decided we wanted to go see a movie tonight, and the only two he wanted to see were Hop or Insidious. And I wasn't in the mood for Hop, so I chose Insidious. When we got to the theater, I saw it was PG-13, and I was like, "Oh no, this'll be crap."

(Side note: Before Insidious, they had a trailer for Guillermo del Toro's latest production Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. It was the first time I'd seen the trailer in theaters, although I had seen it before, and that looks like it will be terrifying fun). 

But let me tell you - it scared the hell out of me. I can honestly say I haven't been that scared during a movie in my entire life, and I watch a lot of movies. For comparison purposes, my favorite scary movies are: The Hills Have Eyes, 28 Days Later, and Pan's Labyrinth. (I don't care if Pan's Labyrinth isn't technically horror - the thing with the hands is the most terrifying movie creature of all time).

When we were leaving the theater (and I was still shaking in terror - something that has never happened to me before), Eric commented, "It was like they took the part that scared me the most in The Exorcist and turned it into a whole movie." And that's fairly accurate.

A few months ago, I had a brain storming session with Eric where I talked about what would make the scariest movie ever. After some talk, we came up with a lot of ideas. I worked out a rough idea of a horror novel, but I'm totally scrapping it now. Because everything we talked about was in that movie.

Insidious was totally brilliant. Leigh Whannel and James Wan clearly studied other horror films and learned from them. I expected something usual with a few scares like The Ring, but this was done so well, and the storyline was actually pretty good, too.

Here's a minor spoiler but not really: Usually in horror movies like this, the wife goes, "The house is haunted we need to leave!" And the husband goes, "No, you're just crazy. Let's stay, despite all the weird stuff is happening." But in this movie, fairly early on, the wife goes, "The house is haunted! I can't take it here!" And the husband - displaying a stunningly level-head for a horror movie goes - says, "Okay. We'll do what we need to do." And then they moved.

I have never in horror movie ever seen the people leave the haunted house. I really enjoyed Paranormal Activity, but I kept thinking, "There is no way I could sleep in that house with all that crap going on. I'd have to check into a Holiday Inn."

The one thing I will say - the last quarter of the film gets a bit wonky. When they explore "the further" (which makes sense if you see the movie), it feels a bit more like a Terry Gilliam project than a horror film. Which isn't completely bad but it does lessen the earlier terror it did an excellent job building up.

And also - "Tiptoe through the Tulips?" Seriously? I don't know if that was meant in homage to Jeepers Creepers or what, but Tiny Tim isn't scary. Well... at least not like that.

Oh! And the score was divine! It was total old school Hitchcock-ian crazy violins and piano crashes. This really was an old school horror flick. Very minimal CGI. It was nuanced and camera tricks and perfectly timed noises. No gore at all. Just straight up fear.

The only thing that would've made it better would have been if Doug Jones played the red faced thing. Doug Jones makes everything scarier. (See my previous post on the awesomeness of Doug Jones: Rambling...)

I've probably hyped Insidious too much. Now you'll go see it, and be all like, "What? This isn't scary at all. That Amanda Hocking is a total wuss."

Maybe I am. I have been in a weird mood lately. But I am big into movies, and I am particularly fond of action, horror, fantasy, and 80s movies, and most of them scare me not at all or very minimally. And Insidious really scared me. So much so, I don't think I'll ever watch it again. It was very much like a really well done haunted house.

I'm sure they'll be a poorly done sequel in a few years, but that doesn't change the fact that I personally would rank Insidious as the scariest movie of all time.