LoquaciousMuse July 12, 2011
I shouldn’t have watched this right before bed. I really shouldn’t have watched this right before bed.
Today marks the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Insidious, an original horror film from Saw writer/director team James Wan and Leigh Whannell, produced by Oren Pell of Paranormal Activity fame, starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne. The Blu-ray rocks a 1080p/AVC transfer and a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. It’s rated PG-13 for “we don’t need blood and guts and torture porn to scare you.”
I found this unexpectedly genre-bending film to be oddly delightful in its originality. Equal parts naturalism and off-the-rails theatricality, I must say I had no idea where it would end up when it began. Even though at every twist I’d think to myself “I knew it!”, I would then wonder, “Wait … did I?” (And sometimes, yes I did, thanks for spoiling part of the whole movie, blurb on the back of the Blu-ray case.) Somehow the structure of the film is such that in completely enveloping you, it often tricks you into thinking you’re one step ahead.
But don’t worry, this isn’t a film reliant upon twists and turns. What makes it truly terrifying is the slow burn, the build, the tension, the glimpses of what’s truly going on, and some very disturbing imagery bringing up the rear. For me personally, I’m glad I saw it at home for the first time, rather than in the theater, because haunted house movies are, in my opinion, meant to be watched at home. That’s when they become the most tangible and frightening. And this film was no exception.
Another plus of watching at home was utilizing my surround sound system to enhance such a pitch perfect unsettling score from Joseph Bishara (who doubles as an actor and plays an important role in the film), paired with the incredibly dynamic sound design. The soundscape was so effective, I kept finding it bleeding into reality, becoming increasingly convinced that some of the creaks and crashes were coming from outside of the screen. It helped create an all too terrifying atmosphere.
Now this movie wasn’t perfect for me. It was almost too dark at times to see what was going on, and the comic relief fell a little flat as it was just too little too late and almost unwanted at that point; but despite those small gripes, the film is worth seeing for its interesting blend of genres alone. Then throw in the fact that it’s low-budget, well-made, original, and legitimately scary and it becomes a full-on recommendation.
But to buy the Blu-ray? I’m not convinced.
There are only three extras: Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar, which gives a little background on the idea of the film and the genres it delves into; On Set with Insidious, which features fun behind-the-scenes footage and a peek at the on-set relationships, stunts, bits that were cut, and more; and Insidious: Entities, a closer look at all of the Entities. While these extras aren’t bad, they are nowhere near meaty enough. They total about 25 minutes and only feature interviews with six people — a very enthusiastic Wan and Whannell in all three, and in Insidious: Entities, the production designer, costume designer, head of the makeup department and head of the hair department as well. The featurettes are all informative and fun to watch, but ultimately don’t go as in-depth as I’ve come to expect from my Blu-rays. There is no commentary, and no equivalent. Plus you’re practically forced into watching multiple trailers before even getting to the main menu. Weren’t we past that as a people?
But because the film is such an interesting little combo of unique and bone-chilling, I at least recommend a rental. To be watched at night. With the surround sound on high. I guarantee you will have trouble sleeping. And according to Wan and Whannell, that’s the mark of a horror movie doing its job. So, mission accomplished, boys. I’m using a night light tonight.
Categories: DVDTags: Blu-ray review, Horror, Insidious, Rose Byrne