Insidious. I had been hearing inklings about how scary this was for months, while diligently awaiting the BluRay release and, as always, eschewing all trailers and reviews. So when the Netflix-distributed disc finally arrived yesterday afternoon, I was thrown into a state of elated anticipation for the evening to come. I thought, finally a movie that is supposed to be a nice classic scary horror movie. But in the end, I walked away disappointed and wondering where all the praise is coming from. Just like with my experience with Insidious, I feel like I missed something.
From what I remember of Insidious, the plot structure is similar: a family moves into a house with a harrowing history and a malevolent spirit begins attacking the child(ren), delivering scares via the parents. I can say that the story is the strongest point of the movie. There is a strong backstory, which eventually and creatively produces a nice little twist that strips away the safety of the most pragmatic decision I've ever seen a main character in a horror movie make (sorry to be so vague). And everything concerning the malevolent spirit follows; that is, plot details aren't seemingly thrown together in hopes of producing a complex plot for the sake of winning the approval of audiences who decry horror movies as being shallow.
I think my disappointment came with the fact that Sinister repackages so many jump-scares and musical stings I've experienced before. It's safe to say that my thrill receptors have already been blunted! This is also what I found offputting about Insidious--though with Insidious, there were two out of the myriad scares that I loved. To be more specific, I used to find ghost-children effective until around 2004's The Grudge. Now it just makes the film unbelievable and silly. And every single little scare had to be accompanied by an outrageously loud and grinding musical sting. Like the makeup-plastered ghost-children, this damages the believability of the movie. In real life, I wouldn't hear someone slamming their hands on piano keys during a scary situation! And a lot of the scares are predictable: e.g. Ellison holding the picture up in front of his face while looking out the window--you know what's about to happen. But, on the other hand, the found footage (literally, footage that the main character finds in the attic) was admittedly pretty creepy. There is one scare that involves the "Yard Work" footage that really got me. Though I think it would've been even creepier without the synthesized assistance.
In the end, I'm disappointed but not to the point of not liking the movie. Of everything coming out recently, this is a strong release, especially for a mainstream release. It just didn't have the scary factor that I'd been led to expect. Then again, perhaps this just doesn't jibe with my tastes; I really find the subtle scares of Lovely Molly and Lake Mungo to be exceedingly more effective than the scares delivered in a movie like Sinister. One thing is certain: I will be rewatching this at some point this year and giving it a reconsideration now that my expectations are properly set.