Synopsis: A family deals with something strange and paranormal that is haunting their kid. Once they contact a woman to help, she shouts things at them about other dimensions and they ask no questions and take it all as fact.
Year Released/Director: It was made in 2011 and directed by my bae, James Wan.
As with my last review there wasn’t all that much death in this film. Elise does die in the end, but that’s more tragic, and to call that my favorite would be a bit insensitive. There was, however, a scene I kinda liked. While Josh is in The Further, he meets a family that gives off some series Lizzie Borden vibes. At one point, one of the twin girls shoots her whole family with a shotgun and sends a creepy smile Josh’s way. That was pretty spoopy.
For the love of all that is holy, I do not understand why Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” was included in this movie. No one mentioned it in any interview, no one has really blogged about it, and I’m just at a loss. Maybe, because I loved this song before I watched the movie in an un-ironic way, it didn’t come across as creepy to me; who knows.
Whatever the case, I found this scene to be the funniest in the whole movie. The demon in this film really likes this song, and based on the discovery that he likes to use the kids he inhabits as puppets, it makes it even better. This video explains it all, but for those of you that don’t want to watch it, Renai is walking around the house cleaning things up, but as she passes by a window, she spies a young boy dancing to this song that is inexplicably playing. We only catch a few of his moves, but he does a cute little dance for a few seconds and then disappears.
Humor me, and, if you watch this, imagine what the demon behind this kid looks like trying to pull of a simple scare for this poor, terrorized woman.
What they did right:
I LOVED the cinematography in this movie. The camera was shaky at times, it used wide, unedited scenes to show what was happening for a good chunk of the film. One of my favorite edits, done by James Wan, himself, is the jump from the parents finding attempting to wake Dalton, to the parents speaking with the doctor at the hospital. There’s no ambulance, no emergency room visit, no hectic medical stress, just genuine confusion on both your part as the viewer, and the part of the parents who are extremely confused as to what’s happening to their child.
Not only that, but the movie itself was scary, kept me on edge, and made me curious to see what would happen even if it got a bit cheesy towards the end.
After reading through all of the interviews and trivia, I also learned that this movie feels like a family just as a viewer. James Wan directed and edited, Leigh Whannell wrote and acted in it, the composer for the film played the red-faced demon, and Easter egged names popped up here and there announcing the names of hair and makeup crew. Everyone got a bit of spotlight and that fact just makes me happy. Not to mention, this cast and crew follows Wan through his other movies as well. Patrick Wilson is his the Johnny Depp to Wan’s Tim Burton and I love it.
Thoughts from Interviews:
In this absolutely adorable interview with James Wan and Leigh Whannel, they chat about what inspired the movie and the scares they used. It was short, so allow me to summarize it all in a few quotes, the first of which is paraphrased because it includes dialogue from both of them.
“We’re not fans of the false scare…you expect that from your screen movies, that they kind of make fun of these sort of things and they work well in…horror comedies, but not when you’re trying to kinda be serious….an audience goes into a horror film with a certain amount of energy…they’re pumped up, they want to see something scary. If you keep wasting that energy with big orchestra stings for something that’s not a threat…that starts to have a diluting effect. The more you do it, then the audience gets self-consciously coached into not being scared anymore….and then when it really is the bad guy behind them, you’ve cried wolf too many times and it doesn’t have the same impact.”
“To be able to write great horror, you need to be someone who can tap easily into your sense of fear…if you’re not afraid of anything, I don’t think you’re going to write a great horror film.”
In another interview, when asked where they get their ideas from, James and Leigh said it’s just the stuff they’re into.
In the previous interview, James states he had a paranormal experience in which he was staying in a hotel and saw a child in a white Victorian dress at the foot of his bed. However, in this interview, when he’s asked, he said no because he doesn’t like talking about it. Good to know James Wan is a big chicken like me.
So far my favorite quote from this interview is, when asked whose body they would inhabit if they were demons, James says Scarlett Johansson, and Leigh says “I’d jump into Ryan Reynolds’ body and then go fuck the shit out of James.” I nearly died.
According to these two, they didn’t have a sequel planned when they made this film and essentially shut the door on it. They did the same with SAW as well, but after being prodded by their crew, they relented. I suppose that’s what happened here.
This film was shot in three weeks
James Wan, who directed both Insidious 1 & 2 and The Conjuring 1 & 2, had The Conjuring franchise in mind, while directing the first Insidious movie. A number of coherent points can be spotted in both the first and the second Insidious movies.
James Wan had a part in all of the movies but only directed the first two. However, he edited the first one and that’s why it’s so amazing.
If you look closely at the blackboard in Josh’s classroom, you can see a few names of crew members on the board behind him and a tiny doodle of Billy, the puppet from the SAW movies.
**Now, we’re about to go down a true crime hole for this next part, so either bare with me or skip ahead. This case will deal with mentions of sexual abuse a murder. I know, not what you expected in the middle of a movie review. Surprise!**
As I was perusing the Wikipedia page for this movie, I came across something strange you may have seen on my Instagram a few weeks ago. As I hovered over the names of each of the crew members, the cinematographer’s blurb stated he was a murderer put to death by lethal injection.
It turns out this was linked to the wrong person. HOWEVER. Something even MORE mind blowing occurred when I read over the guy’s page to make sure. He was put on death row for murdering Sherry Byrne. Does that last name sound familiar? Like Rose Byrne, the star of THIS FREAKING MOVIE!?
So, naturally I did some digging.
Sadly, the years don’t match up, and according to her Wikipedia page, Rose’s mom was named Jane.
On the other hand, I did some MORE digging and found a woman named Sherry Rose Byrne. That’s right, she has the same middle name as our leading lady. Sherry was a pageant queen in the 80’s. This isn’t the same woman because she was crowned Miss World Philippines in 1986, the year after the murder was supposed to have happened according to wikipedia and another article I found. But she looks SO similar to the Rose Byrne from this film there is NO WAY they’re not related somehow. I wasn’t able to find out more about this, so for now I’m just going on a hunch, but either way, neither of these ladies were actually involved in this murder. (Pictured here: Sherry Byrne on the left, Rose Byrne on the right)
The woman who was though, was kick ass. Here’s a snippet from the site I found more info from (and this is where it gets dicey): “Brewer lured Sherry Byrne to a motel room on March 21,1985, raped her, and forced her into the trunk of his car before driving through a six-county area for much of the day. At one point, while Brewer was driving on U.S. 35 in Xenia, Byrne managed to scrawl “Help Me Please” in lipstick on a sign and force her hand through the trunk opening.
Motorists saw her hand and the sign and called Beavercreek police, who questioned Brewer later in the day but accepted his excuse of a hitchhiker’s prank and charged him with a misdemeanor count of inducing panic. Her body was later found stuffed in a self-storage unit.
Brewer confessed to killing her.An autopsy showed bruises and injuries consistent with rape. Byrne had been strangled and stabbed, and her throat had been slashed.
[Bill] Schenck led the prosecution of the case in Greene County Common Pleas Court, and his cross-examination of Brewer helped secure a verdict of guilty with death-penalty specifications. Brewer was put to death 18 years after the slaying, in April 2003.”
Wanna hear something even creepier? Maybe you missed it when I read it the first time. The real attack and murder on the Sherry Byrne this asshole murdered happened in 1985 on March 21st. Yeah. The day the podcast of this review will air!
This dude is disgusting and thankfully had nothing to do with this movie.
Sorry for the tangent, I just couldn’t help myself. As for the actual cinematographer, he’s worked on a handful of projects ranging from shorts to feature length films. He’s the one we have to thank for those uncut panning scenes that capture so well the confusion and suspense of this movie.
I didn’t hate this movie as much as I thought I would, based on the bits and pieces I’ve seen of others from the series. After watching it entirely, I now realize I’ve never watched the first Insidious movie. The tidbits of others I’ve seen besides the whole fourth movie must have been from the sequels because I remember hating them. This, I did not hate.
James Wan is my second favorite person in the movie world, right below Tim Burton (for his movies, not his personality). Wan seems to capture my brand of horror like no one else can, and for that, I’m grateful. As those of you who’ve read or listened to my list of favorite movies, Wan directed my all time favorite; the first SAW film. It’s beautiful, cliff-hanger-y, and gorgeous. It’s dark and powerful and…okay, okay, I’ll stop gushing. I love the dude’s work, he’s amazing and I was thrilled to find out he worked on this film.
Not only did James Wan have a part in this film, but so did Oren Peli, of Paranormal Activity, and Jordan Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions. Not only is the cast star-studded, but so is the crew. I’m blown away by the names I recognize here and it made me all giddy and excited to watch the beginning credits.
The story begins with a family moving into a house that, right off the bat, has some weird things happening in it. Then one day one of the kids, Dalton, goes to investigate the attic after the door opens on it’s own, like you do.
In the process, he falls off of a ladder. The next morning, his parents find him in a comatose state and take him to a hospital that essentially says he has no brain damage, so they don’t know why he won’t wake up. It’s neither here nor there for me to determine if lack of brain damage is a good enough reason to completely ignore a sick child. Now, here is where I have a little hiccup. When he falls off the ladder, he clearly hits his head. The parents then put him to bed and wake up to find that he’s in a kind of coma.
I’ve heard multiple times that if you have a concussion you shouldn’t fall asleep. Some are not super severe, but they all cause some kind of brain damage. I’m not saying this is the case here because the doctor said Dalton didn’t have any. However, as you’ll find out is a running theme through this, and plenty other horror movies, they never get a second opinion. When brain injuries like going randomly comatose occur, it’s a good idea to get your child checked out by multiple doctors. But hey, that’s just my stance.
So, more creepy things happen, Renai gripes to her mother in law, Lorraine, about it all, who then gets all weird and mysterious. Lorraine then tells the two that she’s been having weird dreams about creepy things that have happened to Dalton as he sleeps.
This then begs the question, if she can have foreshadowing paranormal dreams about Dalton, why couldn’t she have them about her own son? She had to take pictures of the kid for years before she realized something was wrong with him. Even then, she had to ask for help. She was then never involved (as far as we know) and let Elise do everything. Ugh. CONTINUITY PEOPLE!
So Dalton is in a coma and sleeping in his bed. Once it’s established he won’t be waking up anytime soon, more creepy things start to happen. A dude keeps showing up in the baby’s room, doors are opened, alarms are set off, and all the while, Patrick Wilson doesn’t think to grab a weapon until after it’s all happened.
It’s this whole thing that had built up over what I assume are a few weeks. The wife, Renai (played by Rose Byrne) is completely freaked out and asks her husband to move. Now, typically in horror stories, you don’t have this option. Most of the time, people choose old houses that are haunted because they got a good deal and are ready to settle down. However, this family is rich as balls and has no qualms about moving, even though they just did. It’s important to the plot for them to move because the whole “thing” about this movie is that it’s not the house that’s haunted, it’s Dalton, but moving takes a long time, is extremely stressful, and what’s more, once they move everything intensifies and we basically forget they have two other kids. It’s like they just left them at the other house. Once they move, it becomes the “Dalton is astral projecting himself into a world full of demons” show.
Lorraine calls Elise and asks her to come over and assess the house. She does so with her tag team of paranormal investigators, one of which was the writer of the movie, and star of my favorite movie of all time (by that I mean SAW), Leigh Whannell. These two offer a bit of comedic relief, but nothing like the inclusion of that Tiny Tim song. That was just golden.
In the next scene, Elise donnes a gas mask? And performs a seance? In which she speaks through headphones? That her companion/the writer for the film is wearing? While he also writes down her communication with Dalton on the “other side” or something?
This scene was so confusing to me. Why the gas mask? She said she mumbles, yeah, but why does she need this obnoxious contraption just so her assistant can hear her? Also, who the hell is the licky demon dude that shows up out of nowhere and tries to attack Renai? Also, why are they hiding everything behind strobe lighting when there’s no special effects to hide? Idk. I really didn’t like that scene at all. It was confusing and strange, and they never explain what happens. Before Elise donns her gas mask, she’s all like “You’re about to see some weird shit, but you’re not allowed to ask questions” and they don’t! They’re just like “yeah, sure lady we don’t know and two strange men, let’s set up a seance in our son’s bedroom so you can contact him in another dimension.” I mean, seriously, these people need to learn about second opinions.
In the end, Patrick Wilson’s character Josh finds out that when he was a kid, a creepy lady would appear in photos his mother took of him, so that’s how she knew Elaine. Elaine then proceeds to tell Josh he’s the only one who can go save Dalton in what she calls “The Further” which I guess is like the afterlife or limbo or something. So he does, and in the process is way louder and obnoxious than he was told to be, but finds his son nonetheless chained up in a torture chamber with a red faced demon that plays Tiny Tim’s Tiptoe Through The Tulips all day long. Yeah, I didn’t make that up.
After a very heroic rescue, we assume all is well, except for the fact that this is a James Wan movie. Turns out, after the few minutes of happiness we see as Dalton scarfs down a giant plate of spaghetti, Josh didn’t come back at all. The creepy old woman from his childhood came back and inhabited his body. He then proceeds to kill Elise and the movie ends as he puts a hand on Renai’s shoulder after she discovers the body. Yeah, it’s super weird, but that’s where the movie ends.
I’m fascinated to see where this goes because I’ve seen the fourth movie and know Elise is definitely not dead for that one, so hopefully some shitty writing will bring her back.
Overall this movie is okay, it’s got some weird parts, but I wouldn’t call them plot holes. Essentially, it’s a James Wan movie, so I can’t get that mad. It’s very creative, shot really well, the acting is amazing, and I love that the cast and crew are both full of amazing talent. That’s why I rated it so high despite my tone during the Main Meat. I did like it and can’t wait to see how fast this series goes downhill after James Wan stops editing it.
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