Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Candidate # 43

(September 2010)

When director James Wan and writer/actor Leigh Whannell made their feature length debut, they brought the world Saw, kickstarting what is now, to date, the most successful franchise in horror film history, for which it was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Horror Movie Series.
They followed Saw with Dead Silence (with a then-relatively-unknown-in-the-US Ryan Kwanten), a film they felt was compromised by the studio system, so they agreed that if they were to collaborate for a third time, it would have to be on a film where they would have creative freedom.
Enter Paranormal Activity, which made a squillion dollars on a practically non-existent budget. Paranormal Activity’s producers turned right around and, under the Haunted Movies banner, threw all that money back into funding five micro-budgeted horror features. Apparently, Wan and Whannell were the first creative team they approached, and thus, we have Insidious, the pair’s take on the haunted house sub-genre.
Thus, we’ve got familiar conventions here: the strange domestic goings-on; the family under siege; the paranormal investigators; the psychic; but Wan and Whannell throw in some interesting spanners into the works that make Insidious both a very excellent example of the haunted house form, and a title that strives vigorously to be something more.
Whannell (as in Saw) appears onscreen, as “Specs,” one of the paranormal investigators, acting alongside Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, who bring an earnest and genuine believability to the married couple at the centre of the film’s supernatural maelstrom. Wan, meanwhile, brings in his great design sensibilities, giving Insidious another edge up.
Whether or not a third act narrative turn works for you, Insidious is still an effectively creepy little number that doesn’t play it safe within a tried and tested sub-genre template, and that’s something to be commended.

Parting shot: As of April 2011, Insidious was the most profitable film of the year; at the time of this posting, the film’s worldwide box office receipts ring up to a total of just over $92 million, on a $1.5 million budget.

(Insidious OS courtesy of

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