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Film Critique Final Paper

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Film Critique: INSIDIOUS
Intro to Film 225
Vera Baber
Instructor: BradWaltman
February 12, 2012

If you are looking for a good horror film to sit down and cuddle up with, and you aren’t bent on happy or predictable endings, Insidious is a gem that will not only scare and surprise you, but keep you thinking and without all the blood and gore that most horror films rely on these days.
INSIDIOUS is a film about a family who moves into a new home and begins to experience some very strange phenomenon, such as items being moved from one place to another without any explanation. The setting is an old creepy house; with an attic full of items from the past, and which seems to draw people in; first the mother, then the son. The son Dalton ends up falling off of a ladder while playing in the attic. He seems to receive only a minor bump from the fall, but during the night while asleep in his bed, he mysteriously drifts off into a coma and is unresponsive when his parent try to wake him for school. He is then rushed to the hospital emergency room where his condition baffles doctors. They cannot understand why there is no brain damage which is usually accompanied with a coma, but they have no idea what else to call it. He is ultimately sent home to be cared for by his mother with the help of a part-time nurse. It is during this time that the paranormal activity really kicks off in the story. Most of the paranormal occurrences seem to take place during the day while the mother is home alone, leaving her to fend for herself. With some difficulty, she is finally able to convince her husband to move the family to another home. They are very surprised to find that they have not escaped the haunting at all, for it has followed to the new house. They finally call in a psychic who deals with the paranormal, along with her crew. After some preliminary testing, the psychic determines, and breaks it to the family that it is not the house that is haunted, but their son, the wrestles spirits want their son. They formulate a plan and decide to send Josh, the father, into the other realm to find their lost son and bring him home. He has been traveling in his sleep and gotten lost according to the psychic. The ending will be very ironic and surprising!
The plot is set in the present and occurs in chronological order, only briefly touching on the past where it is explained that Josh, the father, was himself and astral projector (traveling in his sleep, just like his son). This means that he has traveled to the other realm just as Dalton had. Josh has an internal conflict because he does not wish to accept or believe that there is something supernatural going on. He avoids the truth for as long as he can, actually sending the psychic and her team on their way with a “thanks, but no thanks.” He then has a revelation after taking a good, hard, second look at his son’s drawings, depicting things he sees when he travels to the other realm. Once he accepts the fact that his son is lost and being dominated by demons, he begins the external battle of entering the unknown territory of the “further,” (meaning gone too far), to bring his son home. It seems to touch on symbolism when he finally takes a good look at his son’s drawings and understands the true meaning of them. How many times in our everyday lives do we dismiss something, believing it to be trivial, only to find out later we should have paid a lot closer attention to it in the first place? The allegory of the story is family, and how the husband and wife finally join forces to win the battle against evil together. The demon is attacking their family at the weakest link, their children, to try and break them down.
One of the main actors in the film is Patrick Wilson, who plays Josh Lambert, the father in the family. He is a wild card actor whose “boyish good looks” (Starpulse) allow him to be able to play many different roles effectively, such as vulnerable roles, irresponsible or menacing roles, as well as more responsible and grounded roles. He started his career with modeling, being a television news anchor, singing, acting in plays and television, and then finally hitting the big screen. His role in Insidious is that of a loving husband and father, who is often stubborn as is the average man who thinks they always know best for the family. He gives a very believable performance letting the audience forget it is only a movie. Rose Byrnes stars as Renai Lambert, the wife and mother who almost fearlessly faces the demons haunting them on her own in the beginning of the film. The Australian born actress is a character actor, having played in many popular movies but with mostly small roles. She played in “Star Wars,” as well as “X-Men: First Class,” but received nominations for “Best Horror Actress” for her role in “Insidious” for the “2011 Scream Awards.” She is very convincing as a worried mother, and in one particular scene she has tears streaming down her face (as any mother would) while pleading for help from her skeptical husband and the psychic to bring him back. Ty Simpkins plays Dalton, the Lambert’s son lost in “the further.” He is a rising star who has worked with some A-list directors and actors (such as Stephen Spielberg in “War of the Worlds,” since his acting career began at the tender age of three weeks old ( While his character is a very important part of the story, his role is actually pretty small in comparison. During the movie he is mostly either comatose, or lost in “the further.” What acting he does do, however, is done quite well as he plays and acts just like any child would, making you forget the he is acting at all.
David Brewer is the cinematographer for “Insidious,” and some other works of his include “The Creation of Evil,” and “Roswell FM.” He did a great job making the movie setting extremely creepy. His use of camera angles such as extreme long shots that move up closer, giving the viewer the feeling of walking up on something dreadful, similar to the experience of walking through a haunted house, along with scenes that are shot in black and white which also lend to the dreadful feeling of the movie, are quite ingenious. The focus is often concentrated on the main subject in the picture leaving the background in a blur. One scene uses a very appropriate form of framing, as the mother realizes there is someone or something upstairs. The camera view scans to look up the staircase, just as if the viewer is looking through her terrified eyes to see what it is.
The editor of the film “Insidious” is James Wan, who is also responsible for directing such films as “Saw,” and “Dead Silence” ( He decided which shots to use, in which order they will appear, and for how long (Goodykoontz& Jacobs, 2011). The film being cut in chronological order makes it easy to follow and the viewer learns what is going on at the same time he character does. In the video clip from, (“the coma,”) there are eight cuts within the 52 second clip. The first cut is of the mother as she is sitting over her son’s bed talking with a nurse. It is a medium close-up and we are able to catch the emotion on her face as she talks about the fact that her son is not really in a coma, but they do not know what it is. The nurse then leaves, but is only shown in a quick blur across the screen as the mother says “thank you.” The mother thanking her is really our only indication that the nurse is leaving and we now know that she is alone in the room. As she gets up and begins to adjust the covers over her son, the next shot is of his foot surrounded by blood on the blankets. It cuts back to the mother’s concerned face again, and then back to the foot as she is then discovering that the blood is not his, but of a bloody print on the blanket. It is edited in such a way that the viewer is made aware of the discovery as the same time as the mother. This technique is used frequently throughout the film.


Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From Watching to Seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Barone, M. (2011, March 30). "Insidious" creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell talk about topping "saw" and hollywood nightmares. Pop Culture. Retrieved from 2011/03/insidious-creators-james-wan-leigh-whannell-talktopping-saw-hollywood-nightmares
"Insidious" (2010) IMDb. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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