Monday, July 25, 2011

"Insidious" is an Insidi-Must

Last night I was invited to a birthday party cookout where I expected to enjoy some bar-b-que ribs, grilled zuchinni, and freshly brewed iced-tea. But before I could grab a pair of utensils and dig into my meal, I caught  two words from a nearby group and instantly knew the topic of conversation. Those words were "astral projection."

If this phrase does not send shivers down your spine, chances are you haven't seen the horror flick Insidious yet. Writer and director James Wan (Saw, Saw III, Dead Silence) returned last year with his most recent work Insidious unbelievably flying beneath the radar screen of many horror fans. Like yours truly.

Fortunately, with Insidious' DVD release July 12th of 2011 the wait is no longer an apparent problem.

The film introduces the Lambert family in a moment of transition. The father (Patrick Wilson) spends long hours teaching and "grading papers" at a new school. The mother (Rose Byrn) settles into the family's new house, juggling her three children, and working at home as a singer/songwriter. The eldest son (Ty Simpkins) explores his family's newest house and unknowingly finds (or loses) himself in a different realm of fear and haunts.

Before watching the film, I had expected from trailer viewings a film closely similar to the ongoing exorcism revival (i.e. Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism, The Rite). This brought on a feeling of dread because I did not want ANOTHER exorcism movie. I wanted something new. And to make matters worse, the film is given a PG-13 rating. Everyone knows horror films are better when rated R. Right? Right?

Although the film begins slow, subtle yet big scares manage to bail the film from it's PG-13 gallows and reinstate it among "normal" horror society. Audiences begin to understand this movie is difficult to classify in the horror genre, just like the first installment of Saw is difficult to label as a horror flick. Nods to the classics are given (i.e. Poltergeist, The Exorcist, The Shining) along with some off-kilter grins (Drag Me to Hell, Evil Dead 2), ultimately fusing the film with so many various boogeymen that by the time the film is over you may be left wondering where in your horror film collection you should categorize it.

Which brings me back to the party last night and the words "astral projection." Unless you're down with the black arts, a practicing Buddhist, or read books written by author's with surnames the likes of Ravenwolf or Gardner,  I'm guessing you've never heard of "astral projection." However, you may have heard of an "out-of-body" experience. That's right, it's one-in-the-same as "astral projection." Now in the manner of films, I can't say I've seen or recall a film that encounters or incorporates out-of-body experiences the likes that Insidious does. The only one that comes to mind, but wasn't featured in the movie adaptation, is Stephen King's novel of incorporeal terror It. Other than that, not a one. With all due respect, a big round of applause to James Wan for introducing this little-known spiritual technique into the hearts of movie audiences.

After watching and discussing the film with my friends the comment that stood out the most was that one of Wan's boogeymen in the film happened to look sneakingly familiar, like some unnameable phantom menace.

That aside, Insidious is well worth the watch. As one party goer commented about the film last night, "It's been so long since I jumped in a movie." To that I say, amen brother.

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