Insidious is an unique creature. I remember when the first one came out how polarizing it was. Some of my friends thought it was silly. Some thought that the demon makeup was too close to Darth Maul for their liking. Some thought that it was the new wave of horror. Despite all of these people voicing what they thought of it, positive or negative, they all had one thing in common: just about everyone thought that it was pretty darn scary.
As a seasoned horror watcher, I have to say that in terms of scares, this one delivers. There are some amazing jump scares and some great suspense building. But aside from having the ability to scare, this movie has another thing going for it that not all franchises can boast these days.
This series is pretty damn interesting.
As more installments have come out over the years, they’ve had varying degrees of success, but the fact that this series is trying to do something different always has me intrigued. Somehow, ghosts, demons, alternate dimensions, psychic ability, astral projection and time travel have been fused together in a way that is overall successful and genuinely fun and exhilarating to watch.
For those who haven’t seen them all, Insidious kicks off with a young couple moving in to a new house. Shortly after, their son begins to act oddly, and soon goes into a mysterious coma. Seeing similarities between what happened to the patriarch as a child, the grandmother calls in Elise (Lin Shaye), a psychic who helped them in the past. What makes these movies interesting is that they are actually tied together by the character of Elise rather than the demon. This ensures that you actually care about characters in each and every one of these movies, which you can’t always say for a franchise past the sequel.
Love it or hate it, Insidious is a strong addition to modern horror cinema. Check out my ranking below!
4. Insidious: Chapter 3
This third installment, a prequel to the first film, was the least interesting installment. While the acting was solid and there were some pretty cool effects, the plot didn’t really do much for me. It is a general rule of thumb that sequels start to see diminishing returns, and this one disappointed me. What bothered me the most about it was that I didn’t feel the weight of Elise’s character the same way that I did in the others. She is such an intriguing character, and I felt like the formula of this one was a little bit “insert generic psychic” here.
3. Insidious: The Last Key
The fourth movie, the latest in the series, actually really surprised me. It is a prequel as well, tying directly into the first film. This one has a great hook. It is a prequel, but also gives us a lot of Elise’s back story. While it is clear from the first three films that Elise is in this game to help people, the toll that it has taken in her life both professionally and emotionally is only suggested until this one. We get a glimpse of a woman who has struggled long and hard to get where she is now, and Lin Shaye nails it. On top of that, we get lots of her awesome comic relief sidekicks, Tucker and Specs, who are one of my favourite parts of any Insidious movie.
The one that started it all! This one establishes the series as a moody horror movie without blowing the bank on ridiculous special effects. Things like creepy voices over baby monitors, dirty handprints on a white sheet, the shadow of a creature outside of a window are all used to effectively build suspense. You are fully invested in this couple’s problems, thanks to great performances by Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey. It establishes the ground rules well, and I have to say that even though the story takes some unexpected turns, the rules are never broken. If you are a big jump scare fan, this is the one to watch.
1. Insidious: Chapter 2
Okay, I officially don’t know what’s wrong with me. This is the second consecutive ranking list where I’ve listed a sequel above the original. Sorry! I’m about to state a fact, a fact that I know some people had an equal amount of trouble swallowing when I tried to explain why I loved The Conjuring 2 better than the first. It was way SCARIER. The demonic mother-son duo in this are highly disturbing. The fact that the viewer has all of the backstory that they need about this family before they even display the first frame allows it to kick off the scares faster. It is a direct sequel, and I appreciated that it started off with the cops asking if they’d care to explain the corpse in their living room armchair, a detail that seems to be missed in most sequels.
(Photo by Bogdan Kupriets on Unsplash)