Halloween Scene: Insidious (2010)

I think I’ve seen too many movies. I say that with absolutely no intent of cutting back, though I will probably not be watching horror flicks for a while after a very packed October filled with them. I got Insidious in the mail from Netflix at the tail end of the month or possibly November 1st and wasn’t sure if I was going to watch or just send it back to view another time. But, my daughter wound up taking a surprisingly long nap today, so I took advantage and watched the movie that scarred some friends of mine and made my wife scared and angry every time the trailer played.

Honestly, it didn’t do that much for me. Like with the first two Paranormal Activity movies, I think watching this one during the day while doing other things takes a lot of the power away from the scares. I think it might have also caused me not to see some of the spooky, lingering images, but I caught enough to get the gist. The explanation of the plot contains elements of the story that get explained throughout the movie, so if you want to go in blind, stop reading.

There’s a couple with three kids, two young boys and a baby. One day one of the boys–Dalton–goes to sleep and won’t wake up. He’s in some kind of coma and the doctors don’t know what’s up. Then the mom, played by Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids, starts seeing ghosts. You think they’re just going to stay in the house like every other haunted house movie in the world, but they don’t, which earned it huge points in my book. Once in the second house, though, they discover that the hauntings have not stopped. They get a medium to come over who explains (and this is where the heavier SPOILERS begin) that Dalton actually has the ability to project himself into the astral plane, but he’s gotten lost. With an open body just sitting there all these bad spirits are wanting to get back in, which has drawn them not to the house that the family lives in, but to the boy. The medium and her team perform a few seances with wacky looking gear and then we get to the ending which I will talk about in the following spoiler filled paragraph.

As noted, SPOILERS ARE ALL UP IN THIS PARAGRAPH. So, towards the last third of the movie, the medium lady reveals to the dad that he was an astral projector too as a boy, which was super obvious when the old lady told him about 15-20 minutes earlier that he had changed a lot since she had last seen him or something. He had troubles, so she somehow wiped his memory. Anyway, this means that the dad can go into the astral plane and get his son back, but that will not only risk encountering other ghosts or demons or whatever they are and also leaving his body open for inhabitation by said baddies. I half thought they were going to just show him closing his eyes and then coming back with the kid, but they actually get into it. I mean, it’s not some crazy, hellish world, but it does look pretty neat. Most of the ghosts even wound up being pretty creepy, though that red-faced thing you saw in the previews just looked kind of silly to me, especially when they did that quick cut of him behind the dad before all this other business. There’s one that’s just a big dude with a messed up face and long black hair who looks a hell of a lot more threatening. Then there’s the two Shining-esque twins (though they’re older and more creepy-smiley). Also, the very, very end was such a “no shit” moment that it didn’t even come as a surprise.

STILL IN SPOILER TERRITORY. Which brings be to the real end. I’m getting sick of these kinds of endings. At the end of the flick, the dad has been taken over by the ghostmonsterdemon that haunted him as a child and killed the medium. The wife discovers this and freaks out only to have him/her/ghost come up behind her. Then cut to black. Bleh. I like movies like The Thing where the ambiguous/unknown ending really feels earned and creepy, but doesn’t leave you feeling cheated. In this case, I felt cheated. There’s still people in the house. A lot of them actually. What happens to them? I don’t expect everything to be wrapped up in a nice bow, but this really felt like an ending in the middle of a chapter instead of a good place to end.

Okay, no more spoilers. At the end of the day, the haunted house conceit just really doesn’t scare me. You spend the entire movie waiting for something to pop out. It either does or doesn’t. If you’re not watching as a captive audience member and are doing other things, you’re even more disconnected. That second part is on me as a viewer, but it’s still a factor. The aspect of the movie that did get to me, though, was the child/parent stuff. Not only have I been creeped out by our baby monitors (crying is bad enough, but piped through an electronic gizmo makes it otherworldly and cringe-worthy), but I get now wanting to defend your children and the fear that would come from trying to do so against an unknown, unseen enemy. But, the problem was that I understood that in my brain, I didn’t feel it in my gut. At the end of the day, the movie didn’t really make me feel anything but tense during the seance scene. That part was genius. I even liked the astral plane stuff, more so than the first half of the movie I think, but at the end of the day, I’ve seen too many of these movies, was familiar with the scares and wasn’t drawn in.

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