8 October 2017



'It's not the house that's haunted...'

I loved this film, just like I loved James Wan's other horror baby, THE CONJURING, but I gotta couple-a beefs with it which I'll explain in due course. Bated breaths, people, bated breaths, haha.

Let's just take a moment first to reflect on how rich horror-wunderkind James Wan must be by now, with not only these two high-performing franchises under his belt but the wildly popular SAW movies, as well.

Now then, class, have we all finished reflecting? Grand, let's move on and put INSIDIOUS under our collective and metaphorical miscroscope. This oughta be fun...

It starts out as a haunted house film, and I love, love, love this sub-genre of horror unconditionally. I've never seen a haunted house movie that I didn't get at least something out of. No haunted house movie is all bad, and this one starts out really strongly.

Josh and Renai are a young-ish married couple who've just moved into their gorgeous new home with their two young sons, Foster and Dalton, and their cute baby daughter Cali. Josh is played by the guy who portrayed one half of ghostbusting couple Ed and Lorraine Warren in THE CONJURING movies. Whaddya mean, what half? He played the woman. Happy now...?

It's Renai, Josh's wife, who first starts to experience signs that their lovely new house is haunted. The scariest scene in the whole film happens early on in the proceedings. It's the baby monitor scene, but I won't say any more than that.

I didn't trust baby monitors and stuff like that when my own kids were babies. I didn't trust anyone but me to watch over my precious infants. And watch over them I did, twenty-four-seven for donkeys' years, which is why I'm the frazzled nervous wreck you see before you today, permanently exhausted and kissing boo-boos and owies in my sleep. My bad, my bad...

Anyway, one day the couple's young son goes inexplicably into a coma after being badly scared by something in the attic of the new house. The doctors can't explain it, and so Dalton, the wee lad, is allowed to live at home, in his coma, hooked up to wires and stuff, being cared for by his parents. Well, by his Mum, anyway. Dads generally prefer to steer well clear of that kind of thing. It can get messy and stinky and, let's face it, downright icky at times.

But Mum Renai continues to see spooky, shadowy figures around the place and hear creepy noises. In addition, her non-comatose son Foster says he doesn't like it when Dalton, the supposed invalid kid, walks around at night... Wtf?

The clincher comes when Renai is attacked by an actual fiend in Dalton's bedroom. Dad agrees to an immediate house-move. But when the ghosties and ghoulies follow the little family to their new home and Renai sees no immediate end to their torment, it's time to call for help, to bring in the big guns. Who ya gonna call? Why, the Ghostbusters, of course...

Lin Shaye is superb as the head Ghostbuster, Elise. Horror royalty Barbara Hershey is marvellous also as Josh's Mum Lorraine, the person who gets Elise involved in the first place. No wonder she's (Barbara Hershey) so open to the idea of the spirit world. After all, how much demon sex did she get in THE ENTITY back in the 'Eighties...?

I liked the idea of 'the Further,' but the entities that peopled it were a bit lame, I felt. A Victorian urchin in an Oliver Twist get-up? Seriously, fuhgeddaboutit. It did not work for me. Neither did the Red-Faced Demon, who incidentally is played by the guy who came up with
the brilliantly nerve-shredding musical score for the film, Joseph Bishara. He looks like Darth Maul from STAR WARS with the red-and-black face paint, did anyone else get that?

Victorian ghosts are marvellous and terrifying, but in context. In the context of a Victorian ghost story, like HAMMER's THE WOMAN IN BLACK starring Harry Potter. I mean, Daniel Radcliffe. In a modern American household, they don't exactly fit in or have a context. That's all I'm saying and, hey, it's just my opinion. A million fans of the movie out there might think differently, and that's grand too.

The Old Woman demon was terrifyingly scary. She looks like a cross between Miss Havisham from GREAT EXPECTATIONS and an old doctor of mine, a wonderful character who'd always light up a fag, right there in her office, when you came in to see her. 

Usually, you had until the fag was smoked down to the butt to state your case. If she lit a second fag from the butt of the first, it meant that she was especially engrossed in your problem. Or really enjoying that fag, whichever. She was a marvellous old character. Anyway, that was the 'Nineties. You'd probably be shot nowadays for bringing a packet of fags anywhere near a doctors' surgery...!

Anyway, scary-looking or not, I have the same problem with the Old Woman demon as I do with all the other demons. Who is she, why is she there and what does she have to do with Josh? Why did he see visions of her when he was a child? It's never explained.

She has no back story. She's clearly just a character the film-makers found cool and scary. It's a clear case of style over substance, which would explain the inclusion of the Scary Nun and Annabelle the Doll in THE CONJURING movies. They're great little horror gimmicks but they're not really anything to do with anything. That's my beef, right there in a nutshell. Mmmmm, beef in nuts, yummy...

The themes of haunted houses, demonic possession and astral projection will put you in mind of various other famous horror movies you'll know and love. The Amityville Horror and Amityville 2: The Possession; Poltergeist and its sequel; and even the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies to an extent as well.

Don't get me wrong. INSIDIOUS is a fantastic horror movie and, if the film-makers are smart, they'll milk this cow for all it's worth, keep on chasing this particular little piggy into the sty and all that kind of thing. The Long-Haired Demon is someone I think I've had drunken sex with once, by the way.

It's just that, when I'm being scared by something, I like it to have a bit of meaning behind it, if you get me, a bit of weight and substance. James Wan will probably put out a contract on me now, haha. That's okay. I can handle it. Who's he gonna send round here to give me a going-over, anyway, the Artful Dodger? I think I'll be grand, somehow...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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