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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘Insidious’: No blood, no death, no problem”

    Insidious movie still
    Insidious movie still

    If you’ve seen the previews for “”Insidious,”” the latest horror flick from “”Saw”” director James Wan, you may find yourself asking: What is this movie actually about? Is the entire film this choppy and dark? And what does ‘insidious’ mean, anyway?

    Webster tells us that insidious means ‘stealthily treacherous,’ which might be a good way to describe a spirit unbound by haunted house rules. But “”Insidious”” is not a haunted house movie. “”Insidious”” instead offers a creative blend of scare tactics and comes across as an interesting psychological thriller.

    The movie’s high-angle shots, nightmarish imagery and bleak lighting give “”Insidious”” a mood and style similar to the 2009 film “”The Haunting in Connecticut.”” Likewise, the slow, creeping pace builds suspense until the finale. The sound crew goes a little overboard with continuous Hitchcockian violin screams, but the minimal soundtrack and creepy visual effects contribute to the film’s high levels of anxiety. There’s no blood. There’s barely any death. And things only pop out at you once or twice. But in this case, that’s an impressive feat. The movie accomplishes all its fear simply by psyching you out.

    In terms of plot, “”Insidious”” is reminiscent of “”The Amityville Horror””: Family moves into new house, family experiences terrifying and inexplicable phenomena, family has to escape the house — or die. We know the drill. Or do we?

    “”Insidious”” deserves mad props for straying from the typical haunted house plotline. As the film’s tagline makes clear, it’s not the house that’s haunted. It’s the family’s oldest son. And instead of going immediately to a Catholic priest, the family opts to hire an occult specialist and a team of paranormal experts. So for a while, “”Insidious”” feels like a really creepy episode of “”Ghost Hunters,”” as opposed to a run-of-the-mill “”The Exorcist”” ripoff.

    The film also has a sense of humor, which actually emphasizes the horror rather than distracting from it. For example, the movie addresses questions like: What would happen if that family had a Brinks Home Security System? And: If all that weird stuff is going down, why don’t they just move out right away and save themselves the trouble?

    Naturally, there are parts that don’t quite fit, like a demon-entity who looks way too much like Severus Snape to evoke sheer terror. Also, to an observant viewer, the mid-movie twist is one that you might figure out on your own. Despite this, it’s hard to predict how it all plays out in the end — and as a whole, this film does something different that will be a refreshing experience for horror fans.

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