As Insidious 2 approaches cinemas, we make an argument for the unfairly derided original.
Insidious is one of the best supernatural horror films of recent years. Until James Wan’s latest offering The Conjuring came along and set the bar even higher, Insidious was arguably one of the best supernatural horror films since The Blair Witch Project. Though initially received with huge amounts of scepticism by viewers, this wasn’t, as many critics claimed, a bad horror movie.
One of the few horror originals released in 2011, Insidious is pure horror genius
In the year that brought us The Nightmare on Elm Street remake (so terrible Freddie Kruger would probably want to kill himself in his sleep), the highly unnecessary but actually pretty good Let Me In (a remake of Swedish vampire horror Let the Right One In), as well as remakes of The Wolfman and I Spit on Your Grave, Insidious was one of few original horror films that made it into cinemas in 2011. Insidious, not being a remake (or “re-imagining” if you’re an artsy type), is deserving of recognition for that alone.
From its opening titles that spring onto the screen amid a cacophony of screeching violins, right up until the last half an hour (where, admittedly, it starts to lose the plot a bit), Insidious is pure horror genius. The jump scares are impeccably timed and the story is unique enough that dedicated horror fans can still be surprised. What makes Insidious stand out the most, though, is the score by Joseph Bishara.
That soundtrack alone could scare the shit out of even the most hardened of horrorheads. The opening title music is enough to put anyone on the edge of their seat, before anything’s even happened. The sometimes dangerously loud sounds set your teeth on edge – unlike so many horror films that rely on cheap jump scares and gory special effects, Insidious screws with your senses. When Josh (Patrick Wilson) is investigating a noise downstairs and the alarm to the front door goes off, you’re almost forced to put your hands over your ears. Deliberate sound techniques put the audience in a vulnerable position.
It’ll take you days to get over the image of Insidious’ demon, even if it does look like Darth Maul on crack
Making films is hard; making good films is even harder. James Wan took a huge risk with Insidious. He made something which most horror films these days aren’t, which is something actually, genuinely scary. There’s the occasional cheap jump scare, granted, but there are also moments of genuine horror. It’ll take you days to get over that image of the demon, standing in the corner of the kid’s room, pointing its bony finger at him. So what if the demon looks like Darth Maul on crack? Insidious is fucking creepy, and when a horror film can play with your senses so much that you end up a jumping, quivering, hands-over-your-ears wreck, you know it’s a keeper.
Critics that mock films like Insidious and Paranormal Activity for being cheesy and not scary are the same people that ran out of the cinema in tears after the first 15 minutes and are just too afraid to admit it. Either that or they’re the kind of people that called Saw a horror film – bitch, please.
All images: Stage 6 Films