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Gore swapped for bore in Insidious
©Take a creaky old house, add a cup of shadowy lighting, a pinch of haunting violin music and throw in a mixture of creepy kids and creepy old ladies. Those are the ingredients forInsidious, the new horror/thriller from James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the Australian duo behind the hugely successfulSawfranchise.
But this is less reverse bear traps and more cheap chills.
When married couple Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick Wilson) move into a new home with their three children, Renai begins to think there is "something wrong'' after she experiences a serious of paranormal events. They include doors opening by themselves, voices heard whispering over the baby monitor, objects moving of their own accord, creepy child laughter and shadowy figures appearing suddenly. I know, groundbreaking stuff. When their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) suffers a serious accident and goes into a coma, the couple are forced to consider whether it's the house that's haunted or their child.
Insidiousis clearly influenced by creepy child-classics within the genre such asThe Exorcist, Poltergeist, Rosemary's Babyand even the more recent Spanish spine-tinglerThe Orphanage. The difference though, is they were actually scary.Insidiousrelies on cheap tricks, like an ashen-faced ghost appearing out of nowhere, that may provide plenty of jump-out-of-your-seat moments but lack the power of slow-burning suspense.
(Left: Darth Maul, the latest in horror movie villains.)
It's full of haunted house and possessed child clichés which, frankly, seem beneath Wan and Whannell who previously seemed so bent on bringing original ideas to the horror genre. The stereotypical séance scene has the most potential thanks to some clever lighting and camera work but, like the rest of the film, it quickly descends into melancholy. The situation isn't helped by Joseph Bishara's relentless score that's likePsychoon speed; heavy on the multiple violins and light on any actual impact.
If Wan and Whannell wanted to prove to fans of their previous work that horror films can be scary without the gore, they failed. Boring instead of gory, mundane instead of insane, expected instead of unexpected. By the lack lustre conclusion, it's clear the only thing sinister and menacing aboutInsidiousis the title.
Insidiousis out Thursday, May 12.
P.S. As a side note, keep your eyes peeled for the Jigsaw caricature on the black board in the classroom scene.

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