There are two types of scary movies. The first are the kind which scare you in the theater ONLY; the terror doesn’t carry over to your bedroom that night. Jurrasic Park, Dawn of the Dead, Signs. I jump all over the place and seriously freak out while watching these, but never feel like T-Rex, zombies, or aliens are going to bust through my windows when the sun goes down. The second type are those that disturb you on a deep, core level. They make it hard to sleep; bring out that little kid inside your brain who thinks demonic shit lives under beds and in closets. This is a very personal feeling. What haunts my dreams might not burden yours.
Expectations also play a role in what you will feel for a film, a scary one particularly. Before seeing Insidious, I had heard of friends “crying in the theater” and “still shaking” as they were walking out. So, as we bought our tickets, I was really prepared to have trouble sleeping for the following few nights. Too bad for me then, because Insidious fell into that first category of horror films. It was jumpy (Pretty sure I screamed “Jesus Christ!!!” and flipped all over my chair a half dozen times) and had some disturbing imagery, but the scares ended once the credits began. This was due in part to some goofy, cheesy, feeble lines/scenes that just sliced right through any tension that was trying to exist.
The plot consists of a pair of only mildly annoying parents (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) whose mildly cute son (Ty Simpkins) slips into a coma without any medical explanation whatsoever. This is kind of a cool premise, except that it gives us the groaner line, from a generic doctor, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Yuck. Stab of lameness number one.
The characters and cast were a tad mediocre. Renai (really?), the mom, was kind of annoying. I did feel sort of bad for her, what with a crying baby, (seriously, crying in EVERY SCENE she was in) haunted house, and husband always at work, but I never felt SCARED for her. In Paranormal Activity, even though I found the leads to be annoying AS HELL, I was on edge, always feeling like something HEINOUS was about to happen to them. Not so here; reality stab number two. I did like Lin Shayne, who played Elise, the requisite quirky-ass old lady who can speak to the other side and help save the day, but that was ruined by her goofy ghostbuster-guy sidekicks who were meant to be comic relief. I just didn’t really need to be “relieved,” and they weren’t really that funny anyways. More lame-o to bring me back to reality.
As for the final “explanation”, I won’t give anything away except to say that I give it props for being original, but still found it to be mostly lameballs. A few days later, when discussing it with a friend, I just couldn’t suppress an “ughhhh” over the silliness.
Also not helping (although obviously, not the film’s fault, just frickin’ society’s): The people surrounding me who were talking, texting, and laughing. Surefire way to kill ANY suspense.
There’s a little twist at the end, which I actually didn’t see coming, and enjoyed, but it didn’t fill me with the holy terror I was so craving. When the trailers scare you more than the actual movie, that’s a failure in my book.