By Christine Vu
What components of a horror movie make a horror movie scary? The components that make horror films scary should include a good story plot, unpredictable jump-scares, the soundtrack and sound effects in the film, and overall should be able haunt viewers’ psychologically even after watching the film. I am a big fan of horror films and it’s rare for me to find films that I considered scary. Insidious (2011), however, was the best scary movie I have watched in a very long time. It consists of a good story plot, the soundtrack and sound effects fit perfectly well with the film also producing a couple of jump-scare scenes, the casts were creepy and scary (gave me goosebumps just by looking at them), and at the end provided a good plot twist.
The film Insidious was about a family, starring Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert and Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert, who just moved into their new house with their three children, started to experience supernatural events after their son, Dalton Lambert (Ty Simpkins) went into a coma after an accident where he fell off the ladder in the attic. The events started to get worse as each day progress up to the point when Renai started seeing spirits and discover a bloody handprint that wasn’t human. Renai broke down in fear and demanded Josh to move into another house. Everything was fine in their new house until Renai started to experience supernatural events again. Josh’s mother, Loraine Lambert (Barbara Hershey) was helping Renai settle in at the new house when Renai started confiding to Loraine everything that she had experienced. Loraine suggests that Josh and Renai hire a psychic named Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), a close friend of Loraine, to investigate what spirit has been haunting them and the house.
Upon Elise’s arrival, along with two other ghost hunters, the moment she walked through the door she sensed something was wrong about the house. One room in particular, Dalton’s room, had the strongest presence. Elise made a conclusion that Dalton had the ability to astroproject while in his sleep, the ability that was inherited by his father. She also believed that Dalton is in a state of a coma because his astroprojected spirit had wondered off so far that it became lost in a realm as she called it “the Further”. She states that if Dalton’s spirit doesn’t come back into his body, other spirits will find the opportunity to possess the empty vessel and will live among the living again. In order to save their son, the only person that is capable of entering in the realm “the Further” is Josh.
With the help of Elise, Josh was able to enter “the Further”, found his son where the family previously have lived before they moved, and made their way back to the house and into their bodies. After Josh saved his son out of the spirit realm and woke back up, everyone let out a sigh of relief because everything seemed to be back in order. But Elaine started to notice something about Josh and secretly took the camera and took a picture of him. After Elaine took the digital image on the camera, there was fear in her eyes and Josh started to freak-out and choked Elaine to death.
Insidious was a great movie but there were some scenes in the film that I believe could’ve been better. Like in the scene where the psychic, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), believed that Dalton was in a realm called “the Further”. The name of the realm distracted my attention from the movie because it didn’t make any sense and it sounded awkward. Lastly, the scene where the father became distracted in the spirit realm by a ghost that previously haunted him when he was a child was the most ridiculous scene I have ever watched.
Instead of running back into his body before another spirit possesses it, he stopped and shouted at the ghost to “get away” from him. The distraction made him unaware that the spirit switched him from being inside of the house to outside of the house, allowing that spirit to possess the father’s body. The event just left me to think, “Was that even necessary for him to stop and shout at the ghost?” Not every screenwriting of a scary movie is perfect, there will be scenes that the audience would think it’s weird or doesn’t make any sense as long as overall the movie satisfied the criteria of what you think makes a good scary movie.
What I mostly like about Insidious is that the movie does not require gore to make the movie scary. A scary movie should be able to mess with you psychologically because gory movies happens to a person physically and of course it’s not as scary after the movie because you know that it won’t happen to you, but you can’t avoid it psychologically. When you watch gory movies like My Bloody Valentine (2009) or Hills Have Eyes (2006), the events that the characters are tortured and brutally murdered because the scene was graphic, it was horrifying to see someone, a human being, being killed in that state of manner. But movies like Insidious or Paranormal Activity (2007) can mess with your mind psychologically because the events in the movie are caused by an unknown presence and there are moments that can occur when you see something is not there and a few seconds later popup right in front of your eyes. That can get be very scary.
I give props to the casts, who played the role as ghosts in the spirit realm, were absolutely creepy to the point it’s scary to even look at them. The makeup effects, their smiles, and stiffness as if they were dolls just gave me goosebumps. There were many moments throughout the movie that scared me almost half to death in a couple of seconds, especially the part when Josh’s mother, Loraine, had a dream about a demon going after Dalton’s body and then saw the red face of the demon right after she told Josh and Renai about her dream.
I’ve never felt that scared about a scary movie before, and that image of the red-faced demon lingered inside of my head even after the movie was finished.