Friday, April 8, 2011

James Wan: A House Divided (Insidious)

The haunted house picture is one of the most tried and true subgenres of the horror film. No filmmaker has been able to rival what master Robert Wise created with The Haunting(1963), though Tobe Hooper came close with his eighties masterpiece Poltergeist.

James Wan and his writing partner Leigh Wannell are adept at what it takes to creep into our consciousness, the power of the hint as opposed to the sledgehammer. Their cinefilic passion for seventies horror and the likes of forefathers Hooper, Carpenter and Craven is apparent in their fascinating fearflexing with Saw, a creepy and funny 70s style horror film which spawned a deplorable torture porn franchise which negated what they had created in the first place, and Dead Silence, a guilty pleasure entry into the random possessed ventriloquist dummy genre, ala Dead of Night and Magic.

Their third feature, Insidious, is arguably their best, a stalking and creepy old fashioned haunted house movie which pays equal homage to Wise, Hooper, and even Tarsem's incredible The Cell. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are the parents who move with their young children to an old, dark house where things start to go bump in the night. When their son falls into a coma, they move houses, but the haunting follows them. Ultimately, they bring in psychic Lin Shaye and her team to save their son.

Wan and Wannell conduct a pretty routine plot into a supreme exercise in good old fashioned horror style, leading up to a tour de force climax which leaves their audience shaken and grateful in the safety of the hands of great horror artists.

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