Reviewed on 2011 April 8
My husband and I wanted to get out and see a movie today, Mr. Shukti wanted to see Source Code; he heard good things about it and wound up really liking it, but I am a sucker for horror movies. I wanted to see Insidious and we found a theater showing both movies, with his starting ten minutes after mine. I hoped I’d get to watch the movie without too many people chattering or texting away. My husband got a nice polite crowd of fellow tech geeks in his cinema. I did not. I got way more than I bargained for.
I was literally the only other person in this little cheesebox of a theater, with dimmer than usual background lighting coupled with an amazing sound system, plus an AC/vent system periodically moving the hair on the back of my neck to make things even worse. If that wasn’t bad enough, then they rolled the trailer for that upcoming Guillermo del Toro movie, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. The black screen — and that hissing voice — while I was sitting there alone in that empty, dark theater made me wonder if I was an idiot for going through with this. But I paid for this, darn it, and even though it meant I’d probably spend most of that night hanging onto my husband like a three-toed sloth instead of getting any sleep, I made myself watch the whole truly scary thing. Now I’m glad I didn’t chicken out, because it was a really good horror movie.
The Lambert family recently moved into an old house with lots of character, but things are shaky. The family keeps hearing weird noises, neither of the two sons particularly like their rooms, and wife Renai (Rose Byrne) notices things being moved about. Their baby girl cries constantly and then their oldest son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a coma. Her husband Josh (Patrick Wilson) just avoids the conflicts of home by pretty much camping out at the school where he teaches, until Renai confronts him, and this time she has evidence that they’re not alone. She knows there’s something wrong with their house, but she can’t get Josh to take any measures to solve the problem. She knows the family needs to do something soon, because some thing seems to be after Dalton.
I’m tired of torture-porn horror, because so much of it is just nasty instead of frightening, and it was was amazing to see something that could deliver such a wallop with little blood or gore. Honestly, by the time I got to that scene where Renai is trying to compose at the piano (oh, you’ll know it, trust me) I was so freaked out I thought about getting out of there and seeing if I could find the spouse, but I stuck it out. It lost some of its steam once the paranormal crew showed up, but there were still enough jump scares, completely creepy moments, and a couple of random, truly disturbing things thrown in to keep it going. The acting was very good, with Lin Shaye standing out as a paranormal expert. Leigh Whannell wrote and plays one of the ghost busters, and you can tell he watched a lot of classic horror. It’s a good guess that director James Wan did too. (And gentlemen: thank you. You probably gave me insomnia for a couple nights but it was worth it. “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”? You boys are sick. I love it.)
Three chocolate morsels. Stay for the credits too.