Reviewed by Movie Moxie’s Alicia Glass
Studio: Stage 6 Films
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: James Wan
Review Rating: 6.5
A family terrorized by what seems to be a haunting that caused their young son to go into a coma, moves only to find that the insidious ghosts have moved with them!
It’s a rather confused form of filmmaking, as far as I’m concerned. The film can’t seem to decide what inside-Horror genre it wants to be – Haunting, Gore, Suspenseful Terror, even attempts at Psychological Thriller are there. It doesn’t help that there’s only a PG 13 rating for the film, as most of us Horror-philes can tell you, a good Horror flick practically demands at least an R rating, one way or another.
So the Lambert family are in this house, and young son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), curious as any young boy can be, goes exploring in the attic and is attacked, more or less, by what we suspect are ghosts. Poof into a mysterious coma he goes, while the rest of the family is terrorized by these ghosts in the house. The Dalton parents Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) decide to do the smart thing, like the Lutzes from Amityville Horror, and just move out already. Inevitably, the same or similar bad things start happening in this new place, especially where Dalton is concerned. Patriarch Josh’s mother Elaine (Barbara Hershey) is called in for help, and she sends further reinforcements in the form of a pair of apparently oddball X-Files wannabe paranormal investigators, and their psychic madam Elise (Lin Shaye). This leads to a whole scene where, pardon me for my modern jaded sensibilities, Elise dons a gas mask and, using one of her helpers as an automatic writer (ie Ouija board), attempts to talk to the spirits causing all the issues. Now, up to this point, there’s been almost nothing in the way of explanations as far as why this is happening to the Lamberts in the first place, or the origins of the ghosts themselves. Just a fair amount of jump scares, some fairly good makeup on the ghosts, and fine use of lighting and score. But here we have this kind of séance scene and obviously the ghosts are angry, but but…what we get is a kind of rushed explanation as to why the ghosts are terrorizing the Lambert family, all of them, and then father Josh has to rush into some realm called the Further to save Dalton.
I did not care for this “clue-by-four” style of rushed reasoning, especially considering they could have done so much more with the ghosts own backstories. I counted at least five separate vengeful spirits, each one made up in horrible ghastly makeup and each one obviously with their own backstory, like Thir13en Ghosts, and yet. Only towards the very end do we even get a glimpse of the ghostly deaths, and practically scream past a setup of what happened that killed them. Not even every ghost gets a room setup of how they died, just the main ones, like the Bride. Father Josh rushes in to this realm called the Further (which I was imagining to be like the Astral Plane, I totally think I had it wrong), which was only differentiated by opening the scene with black and white lighting that gradually fades into faded-out color. There is very little involved in making the scene itself feel like a different realm, and that’s just sad. Especially considering Insidious was directed by James Wan, who wrote several of the Saw films.
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