Every so often, a new talent comes along in the Horror world that makes you stand and take notice. These new talents will sometimes release a debut film that is so remarkable and so striking that it will set a whole new sub-genre into the mix. One such director is James Wan, who in 2004 brought us the great “Saw” and ushered in the unfortunate sub-genre of ‘torture-porn’. Often, these new directors never follow up. The Horror genre is strewn with examples of directors who never lived up to their debut. One could be excused for imagining that, given the excremental imitators spawned by “Saw”, that James Wan would follow this example. It is, therefore, a delight to report that earlier this year, James Wan brought us a Horror movie that proved he is very much the real deal. That film was INSIDIOUS.
INSIDIOUS is, at first at least, a haunted house story. We get the strange noises, the fleeting glimpses of apparitions, and the children who can see things that aren’t there. Slowly, though, the events start to spiral out of control, so the family moves - only to have the disturbances follow them. The first act of this film is one of the most genuinely scary haunted house movies ever made. Never stooping to cheap gore or gratuitous, fake ‘boo’ moments, James Wan gives us what feels like a real-world haunting. The second act, which reveals the nature of the haunting, is equally creepy - boasting the most original séance scene cinema has seen in a long, long time. The third act is a journey through a strange dimension that, again, is handled with great originality and skill.
INSIDIOUS boasts a great cast, too. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson are believable and likeable as the parents trying to make sense of their situation. Barbara Hershey is great in her supporting role as the Grandmother who suspects the truth, and Lin Shaye is amazing as the psychic who has, let’s just say, ‘unconventional’ séance equipment. The real star of INSIDIOUS, though, is James Wan and his thoroughly inspired and expert direction. One of the easiest things to do in Horror is make the audience jump out of their seats. An unexpected startle and a good ‘bang’ in the score is all it usually takes, and sure, this film has that. The difference here is that Wan gives us images in these ‘boo’ moments are uniquely original and disturbing. You get the startle and the music bang, but then a second later the hair on your arms will stand on end. As if what you’ve just seen has crawled under your very skin. THAT, my friends, is what a good scare is supposed to do.
James Wan has proved with INSIDIOUS that he is a fresh and visionary new voice in the Horror world. Let’s all hope that he is here to stay.
INSIDIOUS fun facts - The film was almost titled “The Further” . “The Astral” was also considered.
The mask used during the séance is based on the mask used by The Sandman from the Neil Gaiman comic books.
Renai - “He's not in a coma. They don't know what to call it.”
Renai - “Things move around in here by themselves. I walk into the kitchen at night to get a drink, I can feel eyes on me.”
Elise - “The universe is deathless. It is deathless because having no finite self, it stays infinite.”