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Movie Review: "Insidious"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 4/1/2011

Theatrical Release: 4/1/2011

Synopsis

When a family moves into a new home, they begin to suspect that the house may be haunted. Strange things start happening around the house, and Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) starts seeing spirits within the home. As the incidents begin to escalate, Renai and her husband Josh (Patrick Wilson) begin to suspect that a spirit is after their son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Entirely outside their element, they seek the help of an expert.

Elise (Lin Shaye) is a medium, and she is a paranormal expert. She tells Renai and Josh about a spiritual realm known as the Further, and she tells them that some individuals can travel to this realm in their sleep. Elise also tells them that Dalton is one such individual. He is powerful, and dark spirits are drawn to him, seeking to use him to enter the world of the living. Unfortunately, Dalton’s latest trip into the Further has not ended, as has entered a comatose state with his consciousness being stuck in the spirit realm. If Elise, Josh, and Renai do not act quickly, Dalton may be lost forever.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Rose Byrne & Patrick Wilson (+5pts)

The Setup (-3pts)

Elise & Astral Projection (+6pts)

Specs & Tucker (-2pts)

Dalton & The Horror (+8pts)

The Mission (-3pts)

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Pro: Rose Byrne & Patrick Wilson (+5pts)

Both Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson are talented actors. Both are talented dramatically and they were great choices for a movie such as this one. I bought them as husband and wife, I bought them as parents, and they made it easy to follow and relate to these characters. They each did a decent job of selling the jump scares, but Renai and Josh were really just worried about their son. This was where the strong dramatic talent of the two actors come into play.

Regarding the fate of their son, Renai and Josh were as desperate as they were terrified. On top of that, something happened in Josh's past that needed to be uncovered. It was a complete mystery to Renai, and it had been blocked from Josh's memory. In a story such as this one, it would have been easy for this mystery to pull focus away from the characters’ main objective, saving their son. However, Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson effectively fueled my curiosity over Josh’s past while also keeping me engaged in seeing them save their son. There were multiple dramatic things going on with both characters, and it was all set inside a horror story with plenty of scares. Fortunately, Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson did a great job with all of it.

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Con: The Setup (-3pts)

The filmmakers of this movie ended up taking this story in a unique direction, but initially, it was like almost any other haunted house movie. This made most of what happened in the beginning of this movie feel predictable and a little boring. I liked that the story ended up going in a unique direction, but it took awhile for that new direction to start. The solid performances from Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, and Ty Simpkins helped, but it still felt like a fairly typical setup to a haunted house story, and I thought that it dragged on a little longer than it needed to before going in a more unique direction.

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Pro: Elise & The Further (+6pts)

This was that unique other direction that I mentioned before. As soon as Elise and her assistants showed up, the story went in an even more supernatural direction than I expected from a haunted house story. I liked all of the astral projection stuff, and I liked Elise's character. She was more than just your typical paranormal expert, and that was due to the unique nature of the Further.

While I do not want to give too much away regarding the Further and the things that Elise revealed, I can confidently say that these things helped the movie greatly. Lin Shaye was both entertaining and compelling in the role of Elise, her character was interesting and informative, and the Further was an interesting and unique concept. This movie could have been very typical, simply due to how many haunted house movies have been done before, as well as how many of the haunted house story tropes this movie looked like it would fall into. Fortunately, through the introduction of Elise and the Further, the filmmakers went in unique directions with this story, and I ate it all up.

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Con: Specs & Tucker (-2pts)

I get what the filmmakers were going for with these two characters, but they felt out-of-place in this movie. The filmmakers wanted these characters to cut some of the tension that was being built by the plot and the other characters in this story. It was an intense story, with some jump scares thrown in there as well. To avoid making the audience numb to the intensity, the filmmakers wanted a couple of comedic relief characters to cut the tension, and that was where Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) came in. These characters were funny, and they were silly, but they just seemed too silly for this story. Again, I get what the filmmakers were going for here, I just think the movie would have been better off if these two characters were dialed down a bit.

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Pro: Dalton & The Horror (+8pts)

This was the first movie that I saw Ty Simpkins in, and he was certainly impressive in it. He was a kid when he was in this movie, but his character was the focal point of this story, and he carried that role well. He did a good job with the horror, and delivered dramatically as well. This made it easy to buy into what the character was going through, and it made it easy to buy into his chemistry with the actors who played his parents.

I also enjoyed most of the horror in this movie. Sure, there were a number of your typical jump scares, but the unique premise made for some unique horror moments and imagery. The red door, the Further, the red-faced demon; these were all things that were intense, captivating and they had me hooked in anticipation. The movie was then showered with spirits and scares, which made this an almost non-stop horror ride. Was the movie perfect? No, but the filmmakers delivered some memorable and effective horror.

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Con: The Mission (-3pts)

I liked the unique direction that this story went in, but the mission itself seemed to have a massive plot hole. I do not want to give away what happened, or how the movie ended. What I can talk about is why Dalton was in danger for so long. Given the situation that he was in, I feel like it took an unbelievably long time for danger to actually come his way.

I get that the filmmakers needed the protagonists to at least have a fighting chance, but it seemed like Dalton was unharmed for a conveniently large amount of time, and without reason. It was not that I wanted to see harm come to a child quickly—I am not some kind of sick monster!—but I always take issue when a plot is this convenient for the protagonists. It was like Dalton was fine, but as soon as the protagonists found out what was going on, that was when danger actually decided to come for him, with just enough time for the protagonists to save him. It all just felt too convenient for the protagonists, as well as for whoever wrote this movie.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (86pts)

At the start of this movie, I expected it to be a generic haunted house story. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson played concerned parents in the middle of this haunted house, and Ty Simpkins played the young boy being targeted. We are familiar with these roles, but all three actors did a great job of making these characters feel real. Their performances were strong, and their characters were believable. That being said, I expected this to be a generic haunted house story, because it had all the makings for it.

The movie had a family that moved into a new home, a home in which strange things started to happen. The movie also had the spirits in the house who were targeting the young child. We have seen this story many times before, but the filmmakers took this story in a unique and interesting direction. The movie got a lot more supernatural as it introduced Elise and the Further. Elise was a medium and a paranormal expert, and she was also an expert on the Further. The Further definitely took this story in a unique direction, which paired with the solid performances from the cast and the plenty of intense moments and demons, made for a very entertaining horror movie.

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