Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Insidious will leave you feeling haunted

After many recommendations, I have finally watched Insidious! I don't even know how many people have asked me if I've seen this. After a point, I started thinking there must really be something to this movie. There is!

Matt, From Spooky Halloween Arts, was generous enough to send me the movie. I'll try not to give any crucial pieces of the plot away, but you might not want to read this if you haven't seen Insidious yet.

I felt like Insidious paid tribute to some classic movie genres while still bringing something new. We've all seen enough haunted house and possession movies and those subjects are both represented here. What's new is the idea of Astral Projection.

Overall, I think the movie was artistically done. There appeared to be a greenish-bluish lens over most of the film, which gave it a bleak look. The first house in the movie is a large, Arts and Crafts style house that was built in 1909.

The characters who live in this house are a couple and their three children. The mom stays home with her kids through the day and gets to hear every shift and creak the old house makes. Sometimes she's also treated to the sight of shadowy figures wandering about. One particularly creepy moment happens when she hears something on the baby monitor that is not at all a baby.

After enough of these high jinks, the mother is convinced her new house is haunted. To make matters worse, her young son has had an apparent fall in the attic and is now in a coma. She convinces her husband to move the family to a new house. Their new place is light and airy, the total opposite of the last house. However, it's not long until the activity starts up again.

A priest is brought in, and we are eventually introduced to a psychic and duo of paranormal investigators. The paranormal investigators have sort of a Mormon missionary look to them. They're dressed more formally than any paranormal investigators I've ever seen. They add whatever levity is in the film. The psychic reminded me of the little woman who comes in to help the family in Poltergeist. She was sweet, soft spoken, trying to help a child, and a conduit for the other side.

One of the dressed up investigators with the psychic

The psychic makes contact with a series of paranormal entities. In a scene which is probably open to interpretation, I watched what I think was a residual haunting of the first house. Then there are other random ghosts wandering about and something that very closely resembles a devil/demon/the worst old Krampus postcard images you've ever seen.


I happened across a makeup tutorial for anyone who would like to recreate the creature's look:

Whether you find Insidious scary will depend on what scares you. There's not a whole lot of stuff leaping out at you, despite what the trailer leads you to believe. Watching that, you'd think this movie is just a bunch of nonstop jump scares. It's much more subtle and artistic than that.

In fact, Insidious reminded me a little of The Woman in Black. I was reminded because of the movie's timing and build up to scares. That and one of the characters looks nearly identical to her.  Maybe there have been lots of black veiled women in Victorian mourning dresses in Horror movies, and I've missed them. The veiled character in this movie was sort of a Woman in Black/Baby Jane mashup.

The same makeup artist you saw in the first video also created a version of that old lady ghost:

Isn't it funny to hear him sounding like a nice person under all this creepy makeup? Not that this is at all related to Insidious, but he does a killer Beetlejuice makeup tutorial too.

Somehow "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" managed to get even creepier when used in this movie. It was a surprising song choice, but it worked. I found some video of the "Tiptoe" scene with a little hidden gem. I bet those of you who watched the movie missed it. I sure did.

That's part of what's scary about ghost movies - the idea of something being able to watch you without you seeing it.

I found myself most freaked by a scene that probably wasn't supposed to be the most scary. For those who've seen the movie, you'll remember the unmoving wax-like figures in the 1950s style clothing.

I've seen this character referred to as The Doll Girl
I assumed these figures were the previous residents of the first house. Since we're viewing what I assume was a murder that took place in the home long ago, they've become yet another layer of the haunting.

The movie ended in a way that made me say "What!?" It was clearly one of those "...to be continued" endings. I wasn't aware until now that Insidious Chapter 2 came out in 2013. I need to see that! Many of the reviews I've read say that the second movie is even scarier than the first.

Last night after watching the movie, I thought to myself how it was just the right amount of scary. I laughed at myself during the movie as I jumped at a few moments, and I didn't feel traumatized after viewing it. I did, however, think of the movie a little today. Since basically all the action happens inside two homes, I noticed some household items reminding me of scary moments. Every door seemed suspicious, like it might creak open.

 photo door-open.gif

The ghosts were big on door opening.

The writers were saying on the DVD commentary how they thought the movie would stick with viewers, because of those everyday moments around the house. Common, uneventful moments like looking in a bathroom mirror, or reaching into a kitchen drawer, make you think twice after watching Insidious. This goes to show the movie's everyday, ordinary vibe. I really did feel like I was watching a normal family. Sometimes we're watching them from such a distance that we can  assume something else is watching them too.

Insidious is a slow burn of scares. It sneaks up on you. I went from wondering when the action would occur to getting the chills. The movie has that slower pace. If you're into subtle, shadowy frights, you'll have a good time getting scared by Insidious!


  1. That's weird, I don't think my comment went through. Well if it didn't, I'll try and retype from memory...

    I just find that dancing kid to be amusing. Although maybe it leads to something creepy after the point of where that Youtube video ends. I don't know, I still haven't seen Insidious.

    Between the use of Tiptoe Through the Tulips in this, and his large role in film Blood Harvest, Tiny Time sure has more in the horror genre than one would think! Although he's no Frankie Avalon, who was not only in some genre/horror flicks, but starred in a slasher film as the killer!

  2. Chris ~ It's funny, I had the exact same thing happen the last time I left a comment on your blog! It just would not work, so I ended up retyping it onto another page. (I was unable to copy and paste my comment for some reason) What a pain! As soon as I finished retyping the whole thing, blogger decided it would let me post my original comment. Ugh!

    Anyway, no your other comment didn't go through. It could be because I was just fixing a mistake on this post and then updating it. Perhaps you were leaving your comment just as I updated my blog and that caused a problem? That's a total guess.

    The dancing kid is as close to a cute and amusing ghost as you're going to get in this movie. Turns out he's actually a small adult man. I learned that from the DVD extras. His dancing scene is nearly charming, except that we're seeing this poor woman realize someone is in her house!

    Blood Harvest? I don't know about that one. Yeah, who would think Tiny Tim would show up in these kinds of movies. He is creepy in his way, just a different kind of creepy. No, he's no Frankie Avalon. :) Frankie played a killer? That's hard to believe. Which movie was this?

    1. Blood Song-Avalon plays an asylum inmate on the run, who murders people who don't like his music.

    2. Hmm... Is this one of those Horror movies with a sense of humor? It sounds kind of kooky, especially considering who's in it!

    3. No, it's dead serious. It's a pretty decent horror flick too.

    4. Wow. OK, I'll keep that one in mind!

    5. It's in the public domain I think, so it's on Youtube. The print unfortunately sucks though.


    6. Cool! I'll be able to watch it in all its scary and fuzzy glory. :)

  3. Will and I really liked Insidious! It was particularly freaky because (if I remember correctly) we watched it shortly after we moved to Shreveport, and our baby monitor started making freaking noises the day after. I almost had a heart attack!

    I haven't seen the second one yet-I'm waiting for it to show up on Netflix instant streaming. Dinner and horror movies are my idea of a perfect date night. :) Can't wait!

    1. Marisa ~ Oh no! So you guys had just moved like the family in the movie and then the baby monitor starts acting up! I bet you were freaking out. I was feeling suspicious of doors and drawers after watching that movie, so I can only imagine what it was like to hear weird stuff out of a baby monitor. Heck, even a quiet baby monitor would remind me of that scene. You didn't hear a bunch of whispering and then "NOW!" did you? ;) I've heard it's regular to hear a little static out of those things, but that was no static in Insidious.

      I can't wait for the second one either. I think it might help explain some of what we saw in the first movie. I watched a trailer for "Insidious Chapter 2" last night. From what I saw online, "Chapter 3" is scheduled to come out in 2015.

  4. For the most part, I really enjoyed this one. It's quite a bit like Poltergeist in parts but if you're going to borrow, do it from the best!

    The red demon wasn't quite as scary for me because I could only see it as Darth Maul from Star Wars. lol

    If you liked this, you will love Chapter 2. Considering they weren't planning on a sequel, it is amazing the things they do story-wise. I'd also recommend The Conjuring if you haven't see that too, it's by the same people.

    1. Dex ~ I agree that there were some Poltergeist-like moments in Insidious. The haunted houses, the creatures targeting a child because of the kid's openness to the other side, a psychic coming in to help and explain, and a whole lot of fog! I felt like a few other movies were also borrowed from. In the end, all those borrowed pieces helped to form something new.

      The demon did look a lot like Darth Maul! I just looked to see if anyone has posted a comparison of the two characters and here it is: Insidious Demon/Darth Maul Mashup

      There are subtle differences like Darth Maul's horns and those tufts of hair on the demon, but they're pretty similar looking! The demon was creepy to me when he popped out, but the scarier moments were the ones that crept up on me.

      They weren't planning on a sequel? That's amazing considering how the first Insidious ended. It seems so open for a next chapter. Maybe I'm saying that because the ending was so shocking and horrible! I need some sort of closure.

      I would love to see The Conjuring so I have no idea why I haven't yet. My favorite scary movies are about haunted houses. I have heard nothing but great reviews of The Conjuring and I'm familiar with The Warrens for various reasons. I really should have seen it by now! Is The Conjuring more scary than Insidious? I heard that it is extremely scary.

    2. I didn't find out much about this before seeing it so I thought it was going to be an average haunted house/possession movie but when they started getting into the projection thing, they took it in a completely unexpected direction.

      I listened to a podcast review of both movies after watching them and I believe they said the creators weren't planning a sequel. You'll appreciate what they do a lot more in part 2 keeping that in mind :)

      I was just checking the Wiki for The Conjuring and saw that the actors and writers spoke with Lorraine Warren quite a bit during production. Of the two, I think The Conjuring is creepier for a coupe reasons I won't divulge But there is a sequel and a spinoff with its own sequel planned already.

    3. Dex ~ Yeah, I was really surprised by some of the twists too! I went into watching Insidious only knowing that it had something to do with a haunted house and a young boy. I can't think of any other scary movies that involve astral projection.

      Hmm... OK, I'll remember that when I watch Chapter 2. Do you remember which podcast that was?

      That's cool that Lorraine Warren was consulted for The Conjuring. I can imagine she was of great help. I've heard her interviewed on a few podcasts, which helps me take stock in what she had to add to The Conjuring. I've heard lots of great reviews of Insidious, but when people talk about The Conjuring, they talk about being REALLY scared.

    4. It's the Now Playing podcast at http://nowplayingpodcast.com/ They've been around for a few years and they have tons of reviews for franchises and stand alone films. They're currently doing a Stephen King retrospective which is going to take a looong time to finish :)

    5. Dex ~ Cool! Thanks for letting me know. I'll be sure to check that out. I'm always on the lookout for a new podcast! Yeah, I would think that a Stephen King retrospective would take a long time. There's a lot to cover there!

  5. Yeah, I've started writing my comments on my notepad and then just cutting and pasting them into blogger because if I type out three paragraphs and something goes wrong, then my comment is only going to be one paragraph if I have to retype it! I liked Insidious although the lack of soundtrack music bugged me at first (I'm used to GRIMM) but when the action picked up I forgot about it. I guess this movie was made by the same people as paranormal activity. Yeah, I figured the family shooting thing would be the most traumatizing part of it and I loved your description of the paranormal investigators as missionaries - that made me laugh - so true! This movie was done the way I like it, little by little w/ subtle scares. I got goose bumps more than once. The trailer inferred more terror than there really is. Insidious 2 looks even better.

    1. Matt ~ That's a smart idea! Blogger has been giving me a little trouble lately. Some comments won't post and others have disappeared off my blog! I don't think I accidentally deleted them. Anyway, I know how frustrating that can be to write a long comment only to have something go wrong.

      Yeah, the people behind Grimm do a great job with the background music and sound effects. I can't wait for that show to return by the way! I agree that Insidious started pretty quiet and slow moving. They were probably trying to establish a realistic household, so nothing was too exciting for a bit. We're just watching a family unpack and talk. In the end, those quiet moments helped make some of the scares seem more realistic to me.

      I haven't seen Paranormal Activity yet. Do you recommend that one? The trailer looked spooky as I recall.

      Yeah, the family shooting was really intense for me! It was shown like a series of still photos. I'm reminded of those flip books with the pictures that seem to move as you turn the pages quickly. The way they're sitting, then dead, then standing again, then smiling. Oh, those smiles. The people were so quiet and still and in a blink they're up and looking at you! What's amazing is how creepy and effective that scene was with absolutely no blood or gore. Another way for that movie to achieve a PG13 rating. I loved how Insidious could be that scary with no gore, violence (except what is heavily implied with that gun), swearing, or really anything overly offensive. Just good, old fashioned scares. By the way, I didn't realize until watching a few YouTube clips after the movie that the twins who show up in the hallway of the second house are the same sisters involved in the murder in the first house! It happened so quickly that I didn't catch it.

      Great part with that homemade gadget of his too:

      Insidious Twins


      I loved the paranormal investigators! They were so funny. They added the perfect amount of laughs to a movie that was not at all a comedy. Yeah, they were total missionaries! When they first came to the door, that's actually who I thought they were. That could have been funny in its own way. Of all the houses for missionaries to stop at...

      This was a total goose bump inducing movie! I preferred it to what I saw in the trailer. A little bit of things jumping out is cool, a lot feels like cheap scares. I guess you could say that Insidious had expensive scares. :)

      Thanks again for sending me this movie! It was a hit!

    2. Your welcome :) I've gotten a lot of satisfaction out of knowing it's been put to a good use! And I'm glad that Batman has a good home!

    3. Matt ~ I got a chance to watch another one of the DVDs you sent and I might blog about it. It was that "Tales of Terror" set of stories. Vincent Price was so entertaining in those! I saw that you sent a Batman movie, but I'm not sure which one it is. Yes, all these movies have a good home. :) They pretty much all fit my taste for one reason or another.

    4. I really enjoyed your Insidious post and I think a Tales of Terror post would be great! On the other side of the Tales of Terror DVD is another Vincent Price set called "Twice Told Tales" have you watched those too? The Batman movie is the very first one.

    5. Matt ~ Cool! Well, I'll see how much I have to say about Tales of Terror, but I think it could make a good post. Oh! I didn't know there was anything on the other side of that DVD! Cool. I'll be sure to check that out.

  6. Scary!! I haven't seen it yet, but will when it comes on cable.

    1. I really recommend it! I know you're into haunted places, so this should be right up your alley.

  7. I'm embarrassed ... I had to switch the channel because I was too scared to finish watching. ;o)

    1. Insomniac's Attic ~ Hey, it's a scary movie! How far did you make it? I mean, which part made you switch the channel? I'm curious about what scared people the most in this movie. There were lots of different types of scares/entities to choose from!

  8. Oh gosh, it was a while ago. I don't think I even got to a part where I saw any of the entities, Justine! Probably the very first time the music got creepy and I knew something was going to come out from behind the door/ leap out from beneath the stairs/ was standing behind the person just waiting for them to turn around ... ;o)

    It doesn't take much to scare me, and yet when we're searching for something to watch on TV, I always go for the horror movies. And then have to turn them off as soon as they get even a little scary. Drives the spouse crazy. LOL

    1. Insomniac's Attic ~ Hmm... Then you probably watched about five minutes in? ;) I think that's about when the house seemed suspicious. We got a few uneventful minutes of the couple unpacking boxes first. The writers really knew how to build the tension. I kept waiting for something to pop out or float by, but sometimes it didn't. That's probably a way to keep people on edge - by sometimes having something happen and sometimes not. Then you don't know what to expect!

      Haha! So you think you're going to like a scary movie until you start watching it! I'm noticing a pattern with myself where I don't think I'm all that scared while watching the movie, but days later I'll remember a part and get freaked out. Something will remind me. I felt that way for a while after watching The Ring. I kept glancing at the TV and hoping something wouldn't crawl out of it.

  9. Yeah, five or ten minutes sounds about right. ;)

    Oh, The Ring ... I actually made it all the way through that one ... I can STILL see her coming down the stairs in that creepy, disjointed way. Those visuals really stuck in my head. :P

    Watched Jeepers Creepers all the way to the end last nite, but it was pretty lame. I guess it's the tension that really freaks me out, and there wasn't much of that. LOL

    1. Insomniac's Attic ~ Eww... Yeah, now I can picture her coming down the stairs! The main image of Samara that sticks in my head is of her with sopping wet hair crawling out of the TV. I remember seeing that movie on the big screen then coming home at night and looking at the TV. I had to make myself look away from it!

      I haven't seen Jeepers Creepers, and it sounds like I shouldn't bother. :) Yeah, I need the tension in a scary movie. Just stuff leaping out or running around doesn't do much for me! I assume that's what was going on in Jeepers Creepers.