I’d like to preface this by saying I am no stranger to horror movies. My mother is a huge horror buff, and throughout my entire childhood (and even now) the only books she read fell within the horror genre. It’s just kind of our thing. So when someone asks me, “What’s your favorite horror film?” one would assume that would take me a moment to answer. It doesn’t. My response is quick and concise, Insidious. I believe now it’s called Insidious I, but at the time it released, and I was leaving the theater (where I stupidly attended the latest showing), it had yet to be planned as a series. However, when watching the series, this one is chronologically the last to take place.
Insidious follows an innocent family after finding their youngest son (and middle child, with one older brother and one younger sister), Dalton, comatose after a seemingly uneventful night. We watch as their home suddenly becomes haunted — figures are seen lurking through Dalton’s room and outside the windows, voices are heard on baby Cali’s monitor, and then finally Renai, the matriarch of the household, is attacked. Finally, Josh, Renai’s husband, agrees to move, believing her claims that something is not right in that home. Then, their next house becomes haunted. Eerie music, giggling children, and then finally a strange black-and-red-faced demon appears to Josh’s mother, Lorraine, in the light of day.
Finally, at their wits end, the family calls in renowned demonologist and psychic Elise Rainier, who tells them that Dalton is not in a coma, he’s astro-projected into another plane known as “The Further” and cannot find his way back. Elsie immediately sees the same black-and-red-faced demon that Lorraine had seen earlier in Dalton’s room, waiting and lurking to take possession of Dalton’s body. Later we learn that Josh has had his fair share of occurrences with the supernatural as a child, with Elsie having helped him and Lorraine years ago with similar issues.
In the end, we see Josh travel into “The Further” to rescue his son, encountering numerous sinister spirits and demons on his quest, including one who’s very familiar with him … I won’t give away the ending in case you haven’t see it, but if you have, you know it was an unsuspecting and terrifying twist.
This is my favorite horror film for many reasons. One, it’s just plain creepy. The lurking figures, the perfectly timed jump scares, the noises, camera angles, and music — I could go on and on. To me, it’s the perfect culmination of all things that make a good occult horror film. Two, the acting is phenomenal. Nothing is cheap, or cheesy, or forced. These actors worked so well together, and we even get some brief comedic relief in Elsie’s assistants, Specs and Tucker. Three, it does not resolve. Call me nefarious or depraved if you must, but there was something so satisfying about the lack of a happy ending in this film.
This film left me…terrified. I can remember going into the theater restroom after it was over (and as I mentioned above, I went to the latest showing), and it was empty, and I absolutely could not look into the mirror. The shadows on my wall that night had me curling my blanket a little higher around my face, and I am not even ashamed to admit it. It’s just a good, scary ride from start to finish. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. And if you have, I hope it’s on your Halloween watch list.
Stay tuned for a new film each day throughout the month!