Posted tagged ‘supernatural’

Insidious Film Review by Sam

May 22, 2011

I have always struggled to distinguish between the genres of horror and thriller. When someone asks me to tell him or her if a particular film is a thriller or horror, I am never quite sure what answer to give. Well, what does the dictionary say?

The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines the word horror as a “painful feeling of loathing and fear” and thriller as “exciting or sensational,” which therefore leads me to, well not much of a conclusion.

I guess, perhaps, a film can be both ‘thriller’ and ‘horror’. To me, when I think of thriller, I think of jumpy scenes and twists, whereas horror seems like it’s more of the gory stuff.

Why am I trying to define horror and thriller films, I hear you ask? Well, quite plainly it’s because I’m trying to decide what sort of film Insidious was. Which leads me to my first film review of the year (I know, that’s horrendous it has taken this long).

Insidious Film Poster

I’d like to say I’m a follower of both James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s career, mainly because I absolutely loved their first feature film (you may have heard of it, it’s a little film called SAW), and because, like me, they’re both Aussies. So needless to say, I was anticipating Insidious quite a bit.

Let me highlight what I did and didn’t like about it.

Firstly, similarly to SAW, it had a tight budget of around $1 million, but unlike SAW, I could tell. It may have been their intention, but it just felt a like it struggled on some of the technical aspects. For example, whilst for the most part the cinematography was quite good, I just felt there was a lack of quality to the image – it just didn’t have that cinematic feel like most films do. Secondly, it felt to me as if there were a lot of missing elements, the most obvious were some sound effects. Perhaps they ran too tightly to the budget and so they had to skip out on a few elements, or maybe it was an intentional choice made by the director, but I found this to be somewhat distracting.

I thought the director; James Wan handled the content of this film brilliantly. His work on this film was extremely unique and there were so many exceptional stylistic elements that I found fascinating. Wan did succeed in achieving the ‘old-style,’ classic thriller he was going for, and I think it takes huge talent to pull off what he did.

On another note, the story could have been a bit better. Now, in saying this, I realise I should have known full well that this was going to be a supernatural film, but I felt it just went a little too far. The entire build up during the first half of this film was good, although it did at times feel like a professionally filmed version of Paranormal Activity. Additionally, as the film progressed I felt that rather than leaving things to the imagination of the audience, the filmmaker’s became too blatant with what they showed.

The highlight of the film was the comic relief that came in the form of the screenwriter Leigh Whannell and fellow Aussie actor, Angus Sampson. Whilst displaying great performances, they also provided many laughs, and I was thrilled with their inclusion in the film.

The ending was quite good also. Whilst the film didn’t do the full 180-degree twist as SAW did (which was a little disappointing that it didn’t), it did have this extra element, which gave the film a thrilling finish; so props to the writers for that.

Whilst I am aware that the filmmakers are trying to escape from the identity that SAW has given them, I believe that they should remain on the path of ‘plausible’ films, rather than supernatural thrillers. I believe they succeeded extremely well at pulling of a classic supernatural thriller film (which seems to be a tough thing to do these days), but I just feel that there’s just more scope for them outside of this supernatural genre.

Nonetheless, it was a successful supernatural thriller, but due to the fact I am not a huge fan of this genre, I give it 3 film reels out of 5.

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