Friday, December 9, 2011

When Bad People Make Good Movies

It took me six months to get around to Insidious. I had low expectations as the source I most trust panned it and I doubted anything from the Saw crew could be good but last weekend I bit the bullet and gave it a shot -

It's not bad. It's no The Ring but few films are - not even Ringu (suck it, nerds!) - and it's a fun way to spend 90 minutes.

It's a haunted house story that's really a haunted kid story with ghosts and a demon and astral projection. This stuff is covered at the halfway point so I'm not really spoiling anything. And these sorts of movies are all about the ride anyway, not complexities of plot. The filmmakers think they've got that going - I watched the behind the scenes featurette and those Saw guys are suffering from Bigelow levels of unwarranted self-importance. Thankully, the producers of Paranormal Activity were riding shotgun on this and I credit them with keeping things small, fast, and visceral.

The calls are coming from inside the kid!

Story is not the strong point here. It's all atmosphere and imagery and this might be why I actually liked it. I have a soft spot for those old 70s horror flicks, the ones with possessions and poltergeists and things going bump. Those films had a distinct aesthetic - sparse but good effects, shrieky violins - which Insidious steals and puts to good use. I couldn't tell you the names of the characters but the doll-faced ghosts with their still bodies and jerky smiles is still burned into my mind three days later. And this one scene with a gas mask that makes little sense even in context but doesn't detract from the overrall experience. Horror films have every right to get a little goofy, just as long as it doesn't overshadow the scare factor - which is why I am quietly dreading the film adaptation of World War Z. Zombies are the comedy-horror monster of choice right now and if you're a fan of that style then I hate you.

Again, not the greatest horror flick out there but a fun ride, even with the cheesey parts.

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