Delirium (2018)

Originally released in 2018

Overview

A psychological thriller produced by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jason Blum, directed by Dennis Iliadis, starring Topher Grace as Tom Walker. It’s a story about a man who inherits his family’s mansion after his father commits suicide. Released from a mental institute and put under the supervision of parole officer Brody (Patricia Clarkson), Tom begins to suspect that his family home is haunted after strange occurrences start happening around him. He’s been told to have trust in his mind, and not his eyes but when he’s seeing the truth around him, he assumes it isn’t real. Along the way he meets Lynn (Genesis Rodriguez), a clerk at the market that takes a liking to him for being ‘interesting and weird.’

my thoughts

Let’s talk about what landed Tom in the institute. When he was a lot younger, still a child, his brother handcuffed him to a pole and forced him to watch as he drowned a girl. After being threatened not to tell anyone, his older brother Alex (Callan Mulvey) killed another girl and when the authorities connect the dots, the two brothers are sent away. Alex, to a life in prison and Tom, to the institute. It’s a messed up origin story, one that makes you feel immediately sympathetic towards Tom. Especially because when he is telling this story, we have already encountered Alex, but we aren’t sure if he is actually there or if he is an hallucination.

The parole officer isn’t a great person, in fact, she’s really unethical. Believing Tom to be coming onto her, she kisses him and when he declines her offer, she takes his med as punishment for seemingly embarrassing her. When she shows up later to a trashed house, presumably due to a mental breakdown, she offers to return later with his meds. When she does however, she comes in to see Tom carrying an unconscious and bleeding Lynn in his arms. She asks him whether he hurt Lynn because of what happened to his brother–he presumably died in a prison fire but when Tom asks her “Are you positive that he is dead?” Alex shows up and kills her. He claims that he is only doing what Tom cannot.

The remainder of the movie comes at you really fast and a lot of stories come to light. Their mother left their father many years prior and had completely abandoned the two boys–or so they thought. In reality, their sadistic father had kept her underground in a cell because she had begun to talk back to him. In the end, Alex and his mother drown in the cell as Tom and Lynn are able to escape due to his mother’s sacrifice, ensuring that Alex would not get away.

I really liked this movie. This was the first thing I’ve seen Topher Grace do since his time on That 70’s Show and I was surprised to see him pull off the horror genre so well. There were moments where I was genuinely afraid and I was pleasantly surprised that the movie found a good balance between jumpscares and atmosphere. If you can recall, when I was talking about The Grudge, I explained that I think a horror movie shouldn’t solely rely on jumpscares but rather the environment plays an important role. Delirium is a good example of that.

Have any of you seen Delirium? Are there any films in particular you’d like me to review? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

The Grudge (2020)

Originally released January 3rd, 2020

Plot Synopsis

There’s a few story lines happening in this film at the same time. These story lines involve the Landers Family, the Spencers, the Mathesons, and a rookie detective named Muldoon. They all end up ensnared in the ‘grudge’ of a house on Reyburn Drive, specifically house 44. Beginning in 2004 when a live-in nurse named Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood) returns home from Japan, seemingly overjoyed to see her family only to later drown her daughter in the bathtub, kill her husband and then herself. What was written off as a women who committed a senseless crime is thought to be more by Detective Goodman (Demi├ín Bichir). He becomes invested in the case, believing there to be a supernatural curse on the house and when his suicide attempt is unsuccessful, he ends up at a psychiatric hospital. Later, in 2006 when Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) shows up at the hospital to ask questions about the Landers case, he gouges his own eyes out so he cannot see what he knows is haunting him.

Shortly after the Landers, real estate agents Peter and Nina Spencer (John Cho & Betty Gilpin) become the victims to the grudge when Peter stumbles upon Melinda Landers’ ghost (Zoe Fish) and he subsequently returns home and kills his pregnant wife and then himself. In 2005, the Mathesons move into the house. Faith (Lin Shaye) and William Matheson (Frankie Faison) move in after Faith gets sick, in order to be closer to her doctors but she ended up getting worse due to being infected by the curse and seeing Melinda everywhere, which causes her sanity to decline. Mr. Matheson calls Lorna Moody (Jacki Weaver) in order to discuss the possibility of proceeding with assisted suicide, but when Faith’s sanity comes into question, Moody states that they cannot go through with it. S0metime during her stay with the Mathesons, Faith kills her husband William, and chops off her own fingers. Moody flees, only to be killed in a car accident due to being attacked by a ghost.

As these stories are unfolding around us, we keep returning to Detective Muldoon, because she is unraveling the facts just as we are. Unfortunately, she goes into the house and the curse latches onto her and when she believes that the only solution is to burn the house to the ground. She and her son Burke (John J. Hansen) move into a new house, but before the movie ends we see that Melinda has survived, and Muldoon falls victim to the curse and when the camera pans out we learn that she and Burke had moved into the house where the Spencers had lived, and thus, a new extension of the curse has taken root.

My Thoughts

A movie that catches you through the usage of creepy atmosphere, but gets to you through the usage of jump scares. Once you strip all of that away, what do you have? You have a movie that relied too heavily on the atmosphere and the history of the franchise and while it was successful in being scary, it wasn’t successful in the most important part of a movie. It wasn’t remarkable in any way, nor was it memorable. Lin Shaye, an actress I have come to admire through her work in the Insidious franchise, was definitely the reason for the most chilling part of the movie. She cut off her own fingers and didn’t seem to mind one bit. I think this movie had a lot of potential, but potential doesn’t make a good movie.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2020 is a great year for all of us. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be making some changes to the layout and format of my reviews, because I want to always be working to better myself and not remain stagnant. Thank you to everyone who has joined me in the past year, and I hope you stick around.

Have you guys seen The Grudge? What did you think of it?

It Chapter 2

Originally released September 6th 2019

Plot synopsis

The evil clown Pennywise comes back 27 years later to the city of Derry, Maine. The children of the first movie come back as adults, and it is interesting to see that they lost all their memories before returning to the town. In order to defeat Pennywise, the Losers are forced to relive the memories they had forgotten and confront their past demons. A ritual needs to be performed to ensure that Pennywise is defeated, and they will do whatever it takes to win.

my thoughts

For a horror movie, I wasn’t very scared. Sure, there were moments where I jumped or something surprised me but to say that it held the same lasting creepy effect as the first, would be a lie. I liked being able to see who the kids grew up to be, and how their lives changed after they got out of Derry. One of the first points that I noticed was that Beverly (Jessica Chastain) seemed to have ended up with a man that was a lot like her father. I was happy to see that she left him.

For me, the stars of the movie were Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) and Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransome). Richie’s sarcasm and foul mouth were able to break through the moments of tension, and Eddie’s knack for reminding people of the dangers of infection were able to make me laugh even when I should have been scared. While I enjoyed that, it made the movie fall farther and farther away from being scary. Though, Pennywise’s daughter was imagery I would very much like to never see again. Overall, the movie was enjoyable and it had a closing sequence that I found incredibly wholesome.

Have you guys seen the movie? What did you guys think of it?

Insidious: The Last Key (2018)

Originally released January 5th 2018

We’ve finally made it to the finale of the Insidious franchise. What began in 2011, as a story of a family whose house wasn’t haunted but rather–they were the ones haunted. Insidious: The Last Key takes place in 2010, after the events of the third movie but before the events of the first two.

Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) lived in New Mexico with her family as a child, but when her mother is killed by a demon, she has to deal with the wrath of her father (Josh Stewart) until she grows older and leaves, abandoning her younger brother Christian (Bruce Davison). Many years later in 2010, she and her team which consists of Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) get a call from Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo) claiming that his house is haunted. Upon realizing that it is her childhood home, Elise agrees to help.

The childhood home is indeed haunted, but not just by the supernatural but by the memories that cling there. Memories of her loving mother and her abusive father, it is no secret why she didn’t want to return to such a place. While in town, she runs into her brother who is still furious with her for abandoning him. He has two daughters now, Melissa (Spencer Locke) and Imogen (Caitlin Gerard). Imogen has inherited Elise’s abilities, and we watch as the story continues to unfold. Elise finds out that the woman she saw when she was younger in her house wasn’t a ghost, but rather a girl that her father had kidnapped and later killed.

Elise ends up having to go into ‘The Further’ in order to rescue her niece Melissa, and this is where she finds out that the demon she calls ‘Key Face’ was controlling her father, and later Ted Garza and feeding off the hatred and fear of the women they kidnapped. He pushes Elise to beat the spirit of her father as he did to her, but Imogen, who has gone in after her tells her to stop, and to not give Key Face more power. Key Face attacks Elise but her father Gerald stops him and his spirit is destroyed in the process. With the help of the spirit of her mother, Elise, Imogen and Melissa all end up being able to get out and back to safety, but not before we see them open a door where we see Dalton Lambert only to realize it is the wrong door and they leave to find the right one.

Elise says her goodbyes to her mother, and makes amends with her brother. Later, as she sleeps, she sees Dalton and a red-faced demon. Waking up to a call from Lorraine Lambert, who we recall is Dalton’s grandmother, who has worked with Elise before to help her son Josh with his astral projection problem. All the pieces fall together and we now learn how everything was connected.

Final thoughts

In terms of ranking, I’d have to put the first movie at the top, followed by the third, fourth and then the second. The second one was lack-luster for me, personally. This series is a strong contender in the genre of modern horror, where there is a good balance between scares and story. It doesn’t have an unnecessary abundance of jump-scares and it gives the actual story sufficient time to play out and not feel rushed. While not part of the official Conjuring Universe, it fits the same vibe as the others. It would have been awkward for it to actually be in the same universe since Josh Lambert’s actor, Patrick Wilson, plays Ed Warren in the Conjuring movies. I digress. Patrick Wilson, as a brand, has made a name for himself in horror movies recently–with the outlier being his role in Aquaman.

What has always interested me about the Insidious movies is there ability to connect everything without going in chronological order in storytelling. A lot of franchises do this (Star Wars, The Fast & Furious) but it’s interesting to see a horror franchise do this and do it successfully.

The first series of spooky season is now complete! What did you guys think of it?

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

Originally released in the United States on September 13th 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2 continues the story we came to be familiar with from the first movie; Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson & Rose Byrne) have three kids. Dalton (Ty Simpkins), Foster (Andrew Astor) and a daughter named Cali. If you recall, at the end of Insidious, Josh has just killed Elise Ranier (Lin Shaye) but no one but the audience knows that.

Chapter 2 primarily focuses on the possession of Josh Lambert, who we come to find out is possessed by the woman in black, who turns out to be a man by the name of Parker Crane (Tom Fitzpatrick), who in life, was known as the “The Bride in Black” because he would dress in black and kill young women. Elise’s coworkers Tucker and Specs (Leigh Whannell & Angus Sampson) meet Carl (Steve Coulter) who used to work Elise. Together they uncover the truth about Parker Crane and show up at the Lambert’s house to help Josh and his family.

In ‘The Further’, Josh, Carl and Elise are trying to find Parker so that they can get rid of him for the sake of those in the real world. They find out that when he was younger, Parker was forced to wear dresses and his mother called him ‘Marilyn’ and when he got older, he was killing young women at the behest of his mother’s spirit. (Very Friday the 13th) In the end though, the Lamberts are able to reunite and all seems well.

From this point on, the Insidious franchise does not look back at the Lamberts. Their part is over.

My thoughts

Not as good as its predecessor but still a scary movie, I like that Elise still had a role to play despite being dead. The scares in the first film had a lot more to do with tension and creep-factor whereas this one was a lot more in your face scary. I think Patrick Wilson’s acting in this was really good considering how we got to watch the descent into madness as he was being told to kill his family. Overall, an okay sequel that is followed by two more movies. Parker being told what to do by his mother reminded me a lot of Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th (1980) and his own mother. That being said, the similarity didn’t take away from the fear factor of the scenario. I definitely preferred the first movie though.

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?