and sometimes poetry

Insidious (2011) | Review by Mark Leidner

Insidious is like terrorism. Intermittently frightening, but 99% of the time a cheap narrative slapped down onto a bleakly stupid vision of the human condition. It slips between boring, intentionally funny, unintentionally funny, not scary, and genuinely scary. The story is about a generic American family whose shame about their private, imaginative visions of the world prevent them from sharing those visions with each other. This unsung longing—for freedom, sexual gratification, omnipotence, life—clogs the channels of intimacy and forgiveness that might otherwise characterize the practical, day-to-day operation of the family, cutting every interaction with a many-bladed, nameless edge. Psychic tension percolates, traversing even generations, as the gulf between private and familial meaning widens like a torture rack cranked steadily by the grim, star-knuckled hand of time. Conversations become surreally polite, or purposely apocryphal, and sublimated urges grind and undulate into grotesque clouds bulging and banging against the wafery veil of social order until they tear—with eloquence in art and violence in war—through us like their doorways into the world.

A perpendicular gulf: There is great pleasure in watching great actors grapple with roles far, far below them. Think Nic Cage in Con Air or Don Cheadle in Drunk History. But if the difference between good actor and bad movie and movie is not an abyss, matrices of dramatic flaccidity, like Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson as the unhappy couple, or Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, arise. This of course the point of a movie like Insidious, and of a war like the one on terror. The characters are supposed to just competently be there, like the inoffensive suites of wallpaper that come with each new version of Windows. The point is not to look at it, but to click on other things. I saw Insidious alone in a theater full of drunk and stoned and very happy undergraduates. It made me jealous of when I was that thoughtless. Of when I too was possessed with an insidious innocence. The movie is unevenly enjoyable. A vacation through our collective domestic nightmare, glancing some humorous side-characters, and fleetingly inventive frights, with a long layover in the astral plain. Perfect for a date or a group of beloved friends with low standards, happily bored by their own political and existential terror. Click, click, click.


12 responses

  1. courtney frasca

    The movie was reallllyyy scary, I was on topp of my boyfriend the whole time, probaly broke his hand from squezeing it so hard. lol

    April 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    • mark leidner

      lol courtney, i saw it alone so i was squeezing the seat but u right there was some crazy scary sh#t in it

      April 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm

  2. wel well well absolutly brilliant best horror of 2011 loved this sooo much wanna c it again the red monster is shit scary and had me nightmares goin and thats for sure x

    May 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    • mark leidner

      are you johnny depp’s daughter?

      May 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm

  3. brandon le

    made me laugh how the red faced demon looked like darth maul from star wars XD

    May 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    • mark leidner

      i saw star wars after i saw insidious, so i laughed at the same thing, but in reverse order

      May 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    • Anonymous

      i thought xactly th same thing lol

      May 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm

      • mark leidner

        high five

        May 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm

  4. Addi Rope

    He absolutely reminded me of Darth Maul.. But this review is kind of off. Sorry. What parts were “intentionally funny”? And when are they not sharing their visions? Doesn’t the wife tell the husband pretty much right off the bat? Were we watching the same movie??

    August 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

    • visions here is being used in a different way, more like general subjective points of view. the way a scientist’s vision of reality is different from an artist’s. the couple is stifled. the man hides his ability to astral project because he’s ashamed of it. they each have private concerns that have nothing to do with the haunting that they do not air out

      anyway i ain’t seen this movie in forever, i don’t even remember this piece of crap. don’t say the review is kind of off, that hurts! i wish everyone would expand their vision of what a review could be until they agreed with everything these reviews put forth

      August 29, 2011 at 11:02 am

  5. I am only 11 and i saw this movie with my 18 year sister she could not watch this movie but i could. Then i watched it again with my 11 year old friend and she cryed on me when the red face came behind the dad.

    September 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    • mark leidner

      you are the toughest eleven year old girl in the world! are you excited about the new Hunger Games movie?

      September 19, 2011 at 10:42 am

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