Insidious (2011)

Originally released in the United States on April 1st, 2011

“It’s not the house that’s haunted”

It begins in the all too familiar way. The Lambert family have moved into a new home and things seem to be going well but then, it wouldn’t be a horror movie if things didn’t go awry. Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) have two sons named Dalton (Ty Simpkins), Foster (Andrew Astor) and an infant daughter named Cali. Dalton, one night, is exploring the attic when he seems to be scared by something in the shadows and falls, and the next day he is found to be in a mysterious coma.

He’s treated for three months at a hospital but it’s when he is able to be brought back home, that things start getting paranormal. Renai begins to hear disembodied voices coming from Cali’s baby monitor, but there’s no one in the room, Foster tells his mom that Dalton sleep walks at night, but it all comes crashing down around the family when Renai is attacked by a figure in Cali’s room. They abandon the house and move. Lo and behold, the paranormal activity doesn’t stop there, and instead, Josh’s mom Lorraine shows up, played by Barbara Hershey, and reports a dream she had where there was a figure in Dalton’s room. We see a red-faced demon at this point, and the rest of the movie takes on a fast pace afterwards.

Lorraine recommends they call demonologist Elise Rainier, whom she had previously met because she had the same problem with Josh when he was a child. Josh himself, is skeptical when he is told that their son is actually quite skilled at astral projecting but in doing so, has ended up too far away and is now trapped in a place Elise calls ‘The Further.’ He then sees drawings that Dalton had in his room, that confirmed this theory. They decide to hold a seance but then a demon briefly possesses Dalton’s body, which Elise stops. She then goes on to explain that Josh did the same thing when he was younger, and it was only after they suppressed his memories that they felt they had stopped the problem.

It is at this point that we are introduced for the first time, to this woman in black that is thought to be obsessed with Josh, wanting to possess him. She’s been following him since he was a child, but with his memories suppressed, he was no longer astral projecting and interacting with her. Dalton, however, inherited this skill from his father and has gotten himself stuck. The only way to get him out is for Josh to astral project and go and get his son and bring him back.

The scenes of Josh in ‘The Further’ are really chilling, because he runs into various entities that are all wanting to come to life again, and take over the living. He finds Dalton, but they are attacked by the red-faced demon and they have to escape him. All the while, in the land of the living, the spirits are wreaking havoc on Elise and the others. Sending Dalton ahead of him, Josh confronts the woman in black and tells her to leave him alone, she disappears and he returns to his body, and the spirits disappear.

Afterwards, Elise is packing up the equipment when she feels Josh come up behind her. Something catches her eye, and out of curiosity she takes a photo of him. This enrages him and he strangles her to death. Renai is the one to find Elise’s body and looks at the photo, and we see that the woman in black is at the forefront, no longer in the background. Josh approaches, she turns around and upon seeing him, gasps and the movie ends.

My thoughts

This was the beginning of my exposure to James Wan, the director behind films such as Saw (2004), Dead Silence (2007) and the well-known Conjuring Universe that came after Insidious. This universe includes the aforementioned Conjuring movies, the first one coming out in 2013, and the Annabelle movies, the first of which came out in 2014. I like to believe that Insidious was the gateway horror movie that helped me fall in love with the genre. One of my favorite franchises being the Conjuring Universe. What made this movie so fascinating was this idea that the people themselves were being haunted; moving houses wouldn’t help.

I’ll get more into this in the following Insidious movie reviews, but Elise Rainier is the unsuspected star of this movie for me. Especially since we hadn’t seen The Conjuring (2013) yet, so the idea of the story following the ghost hunter & demonologist group rather than the family wasn’t super common at this point.

The part where Renai sees the little boy dancing in her house to that Tiny Tim song “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” rocked me to my core and I couldn’t hear that song for a while without getting scared. (Fun fact: Tiny Tim was a guest singer on the pilot episode of Spongebob Squarepants.)

I only thought it was normal to begin my spooky season series with the movie that ignited my love for the genre.

Have you guys seen Insidious? What did you think of it?

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