I shouldn't have watched this right before bed. I really shouldn't have watched this right before bed.
Today marks the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Insidious, an original horror film from Saw writer/director team James Wan and Leigh Whannell, produced by Oren Pell of Paranormal Activity fame. I found this unexpectedly genre bending film to be kind of delightful in its originality. Equal parts naturalism and theatricality, I must say I had no idea where it would end up when it began. Even though at every twist I'd think to myself "I knew it!" then wonder, "Wait...did I?" (And sometimes, yes I did, thanks for spoiling part of the whole movie, blurb on the back of the DVD case...) Somehow the structure of the film is such that it completely envelops you and often tricks you into thinking you're one step ahead.
But don't worry, this isn't a film based in twists and turns. What makes it truly terrifying is the slow burn, the build, the tension, the glimpses of what's truly going on, and some very disturbing imagery bringing up the rear. For me personally, I'm glad I saw it at home for the first time, rather than in the theater, because haunted house movies are practically meant to be watched at home. That's when they become the most tangible and frightening. And this film was no exception.
Another plus of watching at home was utilizing my surround sound system to enhance such an unsettling score paired with incredibly dynamic sound design. The sounds were so effective, we kept finding them bleeding into reality, becoming increasingly convinced that some of the creaks were coming from outside of the screen. It helped create an all too terrifying atmosphere.
Now this movie wasn't perfect for me. It was almost too dark at times to see what was going on and the comic relief fell a little flat as it was just too little too late and almost unwanted at that point but despite those small gripes, the film is worth seeing, for its interesting blend of genres alone. Then throw in the fact that it's low budget, well made, original and legitimately scary and it becomes a full on recommendation.
But to buy the Blu-Ray? I'm not sure I'm convinced.
There are only three extras, Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar, which gives a little background on the idea of the film and the genres it delves into, On Set with Insidious, which features behind the scenes footage and bits about the on-set relationships, stunts, bits that were cut and more, and Insidious: Entities, a closer look at all of the Entities. While these extras aren't bad, they are nowhere near enough. The total under a half hour and only feature interviews with six people - a very enthusiastic Wan & Whannell in all three, and in Insidious: Entities, the Production Designer, Costume Designer, Head of the Makeup Department and Head of the Hair Department as well. The featurettes are are all informative and fun to watch, but ultimately don't go as in depth as I've come to expect from my blu-rays. There is no commentary, and no equivalent. Plus you're practically forced into watching multiple trailers before even getting to the main menu. Weren't we past that, as a people?
But because the film is such an interesting little combo of unique and bone chilling, I at least recommend a rental. To be watched at night. With the surround sound on high. I guarantee you will have trouble sleeping. And according to Wan & Whannell, that's the mark of a horror movie doing its job. So, mission accomplished boys. I'm using a night light tonight.