Come the end of the naughties once again the horror genre was in a slump. The new fad was exploitation and torture flicks spearheaded by such franchises as Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005).
Come the end of the naughties once again the horror genre was in a slump. The new fad was exploitation and torture flicks spearheaded by such franchises as Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005). Sequels were released like clockwork and the focus was moved from trying to scare audiences to simply trying to gross them.
However, the masterminds behind Saw, Leigh Whannel and James Wan decided it was time to change things up. Instead of blood and guts they decided to have a crack at ghouls and ghosts, offering up the supernatural thriller Insidious (2010).
The story opens with the seemingly normal and happy Lambert family as they move into their new home. But things are not as they seem and they soon begin to turn sour as paranormal happenings begin to run rampant through their home and their oldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a mysterious coma. The family is tormented by spirits, and soon Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson), Dalton’s father, has no choice but to enlist the help of Elise (Lin Shaye), an eccentric medium from his hidden past.
While at first Insidious seems to be a typical ‘things that go bump in the night’ flick, in the vein of Paranormal Activity (2007), it quickly strays away from this and moves into a bizarre world of demons and astral projection.
Insidious oozes mood and has fantastically creepy nail-biting atmosphere that just builds and builds throughout the whole picture. Things just proceed to get stranger as the haunting escalates, really starting to get under your skin and immersing you in the film’s world.
Insidious was one of the first truly original mainstream western horror films in donkeys’ years. It managed to take the classic haunted house trope and put a very unique and very welcome spin on it.
However, while the film does an awful lot right, there are a few select you simply think ‘eurgh’ as they just totally jump the shark.
Horror films are dependent on building a consistent mood, so when you have one or two ridiculous moments that grab you by the scruff of the neck and wrench you out of the immersion it drags the whole quality of the picture down.
But, despite this quibble, what Insidious does well, it does superbly well, launching the new decade and thus a new cycle of horror cinema.
Supernatural spooks seem to be the trend at the moment, with the tens big horror hits being films like The Last Exorcism (2010), Sinister (2012) , and The Conjuring (2013), as well as the continuing slew of Paranormal Activity sequels.
Insidious 2 (2013) has also been and gone from cinema, receiving particularly lukewarm reactions from critics and horrors fans.
With a whole century of cinema full of countless horror titles, it seems that people will always been on the lookout for the next film that can truly give them a fright.
While tastes have changed, going from gothic monsters to atomic freaks to the devil himself, whichever way you cut it, people like being scared.
There is something about that prickly feeling of goosebumps that tingles across your skin and those icy fingers that run up your spine that keeps drawing people back to horror films.
Horror films satisfy an insatiable thrill seeking need within us and while they may need someone to come along and refresh them every few years, they have always been part of cinema and always will be.
Only time will tell what the next hundred years of horror will have in store.