Best Movies of All Time + Ty Simpkins



Insidious is a 2011 horror film directed by James Wan that follows the story of a family who is terrorized by a number of spirits. When the Lambert family moves into their new home, everything seems to be right as rain. On one of their first nights there, however, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai's (Rose Byrne) eldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls from an old ladder in the attic. Initially, he seems fine, but when he doesn't awake the next morning, the parents take him to the hospital where doctors cannot figure out just what's wrong with him. The two have no choice but to keep Dalton at home where they give him as much care as they can. However, strange occurrences start to happen around the house, forcing the family to flee in fear of their haunted home. Unfortunately, the paranormal menace follows them to their next home. With the help of Josh's mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), the family enlists the help of a paranormal expert named Elise (Lin Shaye). With the help of her two semi-bumbling assistants (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson), the crew sets out to discover the mystery being Dalton's "illness."

I originally saw Insidious at an early screening last summer. It was a work-in-progress, with some of the visual effects still unfinished. Even from the rough cut, however, I grabbed a very distinct opinion of the film: I didn't like it. It was a little too out there for my tastes, and ultimately, it wasn't that scary (which isn't good, considering it's a horror flick). Then again, there's a lot of films that scare me that modern audiences wouldn't find all that horrifying, but I think I have a different taste in terror. For me, true horror is all about the suspense and the build-up of a story. While Psycho may not make you jump out of your seat, there's something more underlying and sinister about the film that makes it completely terrifying for me - there's a reason I think it's the greatest film ever made. However, Insidious delves into the type of horror that's become more of a mainstay in recent years. They go for the cheap thrills, hoping literally to scare the audience out of its seats. I don't think this is true horror because it's not the type of scare that's going to stay with you past the actual screening. Psycho has stuck with me since I saw that infamous shower scene when I was five, but Insidious didn't interrupt one minute of sleep since I saw it last summer. But I digress...

I'm going to start with the acting for two reasons: I have fewer negative things to say about it, and I'm set in how I feel about it. Wilson and Byrne are okay as our leads, and I suppose they do enough to warrant our attention, but I never really felt that strong of a bond towards them. They never really made me care about their characters, and that doesn't bode well considering at least one of them is on-screen for nearly the entire film. The supporting actors are a little more effective. Hershey, who some of you may recognize from 2010's Black Swan, is decent in a limited number of scenes, and Shaye probably delivers the best performance of the film (it's not great, but in comparison to everyone else, she deserves an Oscar). Whannell and Sampson are good for a couple of well-placed laughs, but they're ultimately expendable at the end of the day.

I'd like to take a moment to trash the film's musical score, if that's okay with you. While it has its bearable moments, the screeching score from Joseph Bishara was so loud and obnoxious that it completely took me out of the film. It almost hurt my ears, it was that bad. However, if you take a look at my grading system, you'll see that my rating for a film's music isn't about whether the music is good or bad; instead, it's more about how well the music flows with the film. Bishara's score doesn't flow; it simply conflicts, proving to be more detrimental than anything else.

And now onto the screenplay. I currently have mixed emotions about the story we're given (the dialogue isn't anything great, but it's not terrible, so that's all I'll say about that). The story is definitely...unique. Without giving away too many spoilers, I'll tell you that the story revolves around the concept of "astral projection" - basically, a glorified term for an out-of-body experience. According to the film, an individual who can astrally project can navigate their soul around the world outside of their physical body. The film's central situation stems from the fact that Dalton, who happens to be a gifted astral projector, somehow gets lost during one of his experiences and ventures into a realm that Elise refers to as "the further." If you're scratching your head right now, you can imagine what I've been wondering since last summer. Basically, Insidious is a film that requires you to suspend your system of beliefs. If you can do that, you stand a much better chance to enjoy it. For the time being, I've given the film a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to rate it higher than the grade I've given it at the end of this post.

Overall, I'd warrant caution if you're gonna go see Insidious. I personally didn't find it to be that effective in hooking me into the storyline or scaring me out of my wits. Those two things spell certain doom for any horror movie, so I'm still trying to figure out how it's garnered as many positive reviews as it's received (it currently holds a 59% approval rating on the online review aggregate, but I saw it as high as 71% at one point). If you like cheap thrills, this one's probably up your alley, but otherwise, I'd say save your money.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: D
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2011, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, horror, Insidious, James Wan, Joseph Bishara, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye, movie review, Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, scifi, and more:

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