It always intrigues me (or perplexes me) as to the sheer amount of films that either compare themselves to or claim to be the next “Exorcist.” Let’s face it, “The Exorcist” was one of the most original and genuinally horrific films to come around and, odds are, it’ll never be replaced. The same goes for other landmark films like “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Citizen Kane” or “The Wizard of Oz.” I wish studios would stop putting all of these misleading “quotes” on the cover of a Blu-ray. Now I will say that I watched this with my wife who tends to get a bit more frightened at films than I do. I don’t know whether it’s due to the sheer amount of films I’ve seen or that I’m just not as susceptible to horror as others are. Nevertheless, I like to be frightened as much as the next guy (or gal) and that’s why the last movie that really scared me was “The Ring” and that’s nearly a decade old. Enough about me and my viewing habits, though, let’s see what “Insidious” is all about.
Seemingly happily-married couple Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) have just moved into a new house. We don’t know where it is, exactly, but I do recall seeing palm trees in one of the exterior shots. Not that it’s important. One of their children, Dalton (Ty Simpkons) wanders up to the attic where he bumps his head. The next morning he’s in a coma and the doctors don’t know what to make of it. Months pass and his condition hasn’t improved, though the strange occurrences in the house have. Voices on a baby monitor, books falling out of their shelves and even things that literally go bump in the night are all happening. Renai believes the house to be haunted and so the family moves to another house, comatose child and all. Does it stop? Nope. Didn’t these people read the cover of the movie (“It’s not that house that’s haunted.”) So now what? Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey) has an old friend who’s more in tune with the occult. She convinces them to give this a try and she suggests that Dalton’s soul is in an astral plane and that other forces are getting closer to taking over his body. Will Dalton get his body back or are some more insidious forces at work here?
The movie was written by Leigh Whannell (who also has a minor role in the film) and who some might recognize is partly responsible for the “Saw” line of films – well the early ones, anyway. And the film was directed by James Wan, who helmed the first “Saw” movie. While “Insidious” has a few moments that gave me a jolt, it’s by and large the same humdrum material that so many movies try and fail at. A co-worker of mine said that the “movie had potential” and I do agree; it had potential to be very scary but it fell short. I know I say this a lot, but it’s not a bad film and certainly the movie has its attractors, I’m just not one of them. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are fine in their respective parts (though I will admit that their first house looks pretty spacious for a teacher’s salary). Is this film worthy of their “Exorcist” claim? No. But it’s good for a rainy day or something to maybe delay you getting to sleep at night – well, not me, but others.
Video: How does it look?
The movie is shown in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that looks just as good as I thought it would. This is a deliberately muted color palette with many blacks and grays prevailing. There is some very sparse use of brighter colors, namely red, but I won’t ruin the surprise for anyone there. Most of the action takes place either indoors or at night, so we don’t get a lot of bright, outdoorsy colors. Detail is amazing, we can see every facial hair on Patrick Wilson’s face and even the drawings seem to look like you could reach out and touch them. It’s a good effort and certainly indicative of a new to Blu-ray movie.
Audio: How does it sound?
Horror movies usually make some of the best use of sound namely to convey certain key points in the movie. Thankfully “Insidious” does make some good use of the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, though it’s a bit predictable when we’re going to get that “jump” only to see a scary image. Dialogue sounds very clear and natural and surrounds do play a part in the film, though not as much as I’d liked. Most of the more robust sound takes place during the third act, as we might suspect, and though not over the top this movie does make very good use of the sound.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The supplements for “Insidious” aren’t that engrossing, we essentially get three featurettes: “Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar”, “On Set with ‘Insidious'” and “Insidious Entities.” Each of these is rather self-explanatory and Sony usually does a good job with their supplements – just not here. The disc is also BD-Live enabled.