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I am always happy to hear of horror movies that are above average, so I listen particularly careful to darker corners of the Web that are dedicated to this particular taste. Now when the good people at “Twitchfilm” say that the forthcoming “The Conjuring” will be above average, and mentions that James Wan’s previous effort “Insidious” was well scary, why not check it out? I did like the first “Saw” movie, and I don’t mind a good ghost story, even though the chance of finding something interesting and original in that particular sub-genre are slim at best.

So I obliged and watched “Insidious”. And watched. And watched. And a good 40 minutes in, I realised that I have seen it before. Not metaphorically, but literally. Metaphorically too, of course, which is the problem: this film is so generic that it is very hard to identify any distinguishing features. Even now, not a day after seeing it (again), I am having a hard time figuring out whether there is anything specific to be mentioned. There are a few things: One is a grisly gas mask that deserved its own “gas mask point of view designer”, as the end titles explained. The other one a “dream sequence” (not really, but let’s not be too particular about this) which except for its boring and not well directed sequences in its best moments reminded me of some Lynch-ian dreamscapes with a bit of the old Edgar-Allan-Poe films sprinkled over for decoration. And above all rises the memory of Poltergeist, which at times is so blatantly exploited that you are sometimes wondering whether they changed the kid character last minute from “Carol Anne” to “Dalton” so as to avoid a healthy lawsuit.

That means, of course, that some sequences work well: attics, demons, possessed kids, blurry camera images… there is a reason why so many less talented film makers are happy to rely on always the same ingredients. “Insidious” uses those maybe as well as you can today, and if you are an infrequent consumer of ghost ware, you may well be creeped out at times, and jumpy at others. Myself, I was rather constantly annoyed at the succession of one cliché genre element after the other. I still finished watching, because the alternative would have been to bravely tackle Ben Wheatley’s “A Field in England”, and sometimes the brain is tired enough to make its choices despite better taste.


  1. Great review, I have not seen this nor do I think I’m going to for reasons that you mentioned (it looked and sounded generic). However, I just recently saw The Conjuring and really hope you get to that one. It’s remarkable. It doesn’t completely avoid the genre’s tropes and cliches, but what it does do is everything you’d ever want a horror film to do: CONVINCE!! I hate horror, but I loved that film. I would hardly describe it as a ‘horror film for non-horror fans.’ I thought Wan showed maturity in his most recent film. Can’t wait for a review on that, if you do check it out

  2. I am quite keen to seen The Conjuring after what I’ve read about it. I am not very picky anyway: I like horror films, and if I want to see more than just one film every five years, I have to accept that most of what I get to see is just rather generic. If Conjuring will be better than average, all the better! Thanks for stopping by!

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