Insidious really reminds me of Poltergeist in many ways. The troubled child, the quirky paranormal investigators and psychics. As much as it reminded me of this film, I found it original and damn right scary. Its ten years old now and I don’t think it looks dated in any way – the effects are stunning, especially as we enter the world between heaven and hell, referred to as the “Further”.
The scenes in the Further had everything you would think if you were stuck in this state, creepy music, lost souls, scary characters and by what it seems no way out. Visually spectacular, the characters navigated their way within this world attempting to rescue their son who had been taken into this world escaping the red faced demon. It appears he’s a chip off the old block as his father, Josh (Patrick Wilson), battled the same demons as a kid.
Spoiler alert – do not go further if you haven’t watched this film. As usual, the review is my opinion only.
We start with an incident in a new home, Dalton, the kid targetted by the demons falls in the attic and slips into a suspected coma. Doctors are scratching their heads as to what is wrong with him, so he is returned home, wired up in bed, for the family to care for him and wait for an improvement.
However, more ghostly incidents occur, a favourite scene of mine where the mother, Renai (portrayed by the multi-talented Rose Byrne) hears weird babbling over the baby monitor. As she goes to investigate a face is at the window as the baby cries. Then, of course, it disappears.
The strain of their environment drives a wedge between the couple “I’m scared of this house, everything has gone wrong” Renai mutters convinced the house is haunted, frustrated, he sleeps downstairs and her upstairs. She is terrorised by the long haired fiend, and the couple recoup and decide like any normal family to get the hell outta there and start somewhere else. Little do they know, worse is yet to come.
There’s hardly any time between unpacking the boxes to the next lot of incidents happening. Renai put the bins out to see a young ghost boy dancing to a haunting song through the window. She chases him through the house, to end up in Dalton’s room where he explodes out the wardrobe.
It doesn’t take long for a white collar to turn up as Renai consults with the local priest. Lorraine, Josh’s psychic Mum tells us she has seen the demon stalking Dalton, she saw him in the corner of the room. She gets some of her paranormal investigator pals in to help the troubled family, and here we enter the truly visually edifying scenes of the movie.
Specs and Tucker, the investigators, bring some light relief to the movie, along with Elise, the astral projector. With them they have communication instruments, cameras and specialist headware for Elise to try and reach Dalton to bring him out of the Further.
As the camera flashes, it picks up spooks and ghouls in the house, one of my favourite glimpses is the picture below. How cool are these costumes? Surely this is a homage to The Shining?
As the group make contact with Dalton, they get closer to what exists in the Further, including the red faced demon. Elise is transcribing in bizarre head equipment to Specs as he writes down all sorts of threats from the bad guys. She is physically battered at the end of this session. But that’s not the punch line. Dalton stands next to them awake from his coma, chaos ensues in the room as the demon possesses him.
Lorraine finally tells us that Josh himself experienced this as a child. She shows photographs of a weird, black-clothed witch type ghoul who stalked Josh, in each photo she gets nearer and nearer, to one photo where we see her hand nearly upon him.
It appears Josh is the only one to go into the Further to get his son. This last part of the film is by far my favourite. He passes through various rooms and encounters a weird family sat on the sofa. Painted faces with bizarre expressions. He also fights off a superb bad guy, the long haired fiend, as he hears Elises’ voice calling out to tell him its not real.
Ultimately Josh is reunited with his son. Dalton warns that they need to be quiet as the red faced demon could see them.
Up in his room the red faced demon seems to be a puppeteer, but don’t be fooled, this is no Geppetto. The music, the puppets and his weird hands playing with the strings leaves you in no doubt that is in fact probably the devil itself. He, of course, see’s them and brings hell forth. Not to mention that Josh too faces the old black-clothed witch and sends her packing.
Renai manages to call out to the father and son as they battle their way back. They have to cross the worlds to return to their own, and a fight on their hands not bring anything back with them. They do so successfully or as we are lead to believe. Dalton wakes, Josh wakes, Specs and Tucker pack up and all seems good.
Until Elise takes a photo of Josh that is.
This has definitely been the best of the Halloween films I have reviewed so far. It deserves so much more than 6.8/10 on IMDb. Can’t wait to see the next one!