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Genre Horror

Do you have emotional, physical or spiritual feelings of being blocked? Do you experience a sudden onset or desire to engage in unhealthy behaviour or addiction? Do you ever have sudden mood swings or changes in personality? Do you hear inner voices? Have you coughed up nails before? If you answered with a resounding yes to all of these questions, you may be possessed... or are expecting a visitation from your mother-in-law.

Demon possession is no joke - unless you're watching Ghostbusters. The problem is that it's become so overdone in Hollywood with movies inspired by The Exorcist, The Shining, The Omen and Poltergeist that we don't even cringe when we see a real-life exorcisms in progress in the power-plate section of the gym. Whether you're trying to shake off a little cellulite or ectoplasm, one thing we can all agree on is that Insidious is a crafty little horror gem.

From the creators of Paranormal Activity and Saw comes one of the year's scariest horrors, starring Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson and young Ty Simpkins. James Wan directed the first Saw movie, the best of the lot, and went on to direct Kevin Bacon in revenge flick Death Sentence and that ventriloquist doll horror, Dead Silence. He's delivered a series of dark horror thrillers and seems to have an infatuation with movies from the '70s, from Charles Bronson in Death Wish to that creepy Magic movie with Anthony Hopkins.

Renai (Byrne) and her husband Josh (Wilson) are settling into family life with their son, Dalton (Simpkins). After a string of eerie events, culminating in an accident that leaves their son comatose, they decide to pack up and move into a new home. Unfortunately, the sinister happenings continue to haunt them - forcing the Lamberts to come to terms with the fact that their son may be possessed and lost in a realm called 'The Further'. 

If Wan has been paying tribute to his favourite '70s movies with each new film, Insidious is his tip of the hat to The Exorcist with elements from Poltergeist and The Haunting. It's a twist on the classic haunted house movie, which has ironically, been done to death in Hollywood. Wan has created a fresh feel to Insidious, which has the markings of a '70s horror with some modern tweaks on the genre's cliches.

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, two up-and-coming starlets, add solid performances to the mix with a nuggety debut from young Ty Simpkins. The performances are convincing with writer-director team, Leigh Whannel and James Wan, concocting some clever John Carpenter type sequences that rely on suggestion and suspense rather than blatant visual scares.

The filmmakers have taken a hotchpotch of popular horror conventions and thrown them into the cauldron to create something borrowed, yet something new. Insidious has a number of familiar old school horror themes surrounding haunted houses and demon possession in some ways similar to Orphan and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Yet, the focus on paranormal is taken one step further as a team of real-life ghostbusters investigate the house and talk about astral projections as Dalton's evil spirits grow more restless.

Produced on an estimated $1.5 million budget, Insidious is an inspiration, taking a page from Paranormal Activity and the first Saw movie, and showing that concept, performance and passion can overcome budgetary limitations. They've used the magic of editing to their advantage, much like John Carpenter did for Halloween, using shadows, lighting and sound to create and sustain tension - sparing visual effects for when they really need them.

Apart from a slightly forced conclusion, Insidious is a wild ghost tunnel ride - filled with all the creepy bits that made horror so prolific in the '70s and '80s. The tapestry may feature elements from better, more original horror movies - but Insidious is still entertaining and will no doubt give a few kids (and adults) a new reason to be afraid of the dark... or their future mother-in-law.

The bottom line: Chilling.


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