Horror is a popular genre for anyone looking for an adrenaline rush. From old-school psychological thrillers like The Shining to the original slasher films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, horror films cover a variety of topics meant to thrill audiences and get the adrenaline pumping. While many horror films have done so successfully, not all horror films are genuinely scary. Some, in fact, are made fun of for the lack of scare, lowering overall standards of the horror genre to juvenile cheesy kills and predictable jump scares. Insidious, on the other hand, is horrifying from the moment the film starts to when the credits roll in silence.
Insidious changed the horror game forever and is considered one of the scariest movies of all time. Following a family who moves into a new house, they start to experience some strange occurrences until their son slips into a coma. They leave the house, only to realize it’s not the house with the problem. Insidious raised the standard of what it means to be frightened, especially in a haunted house. The movie brought nightmares to reality through the horrifying creatures and a house where horrific acts were committed to life. In fact, the film was enough of a success to warrant three sequels, and it was recently confirmed that an Insidious 5 is in the making. Here’s what makes Insidious one of the scariest movies ever made.
The Man with the Red Face
Some creatures from horror films become iconic enough to become a popular Halloween costume. For example: Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise is a popular costume choice, with his old-school hockey mask and machete in hand. Is this hockey mask particularly terrifying? Not really. The creature in Insidious is, however, not something everyone wants to recreate. With yellow eyes, a red face, sharp pointed teeth, long sharp talons and hooves for feet, the Man with the Red Face is something out of nightmares. While not much is seen of this creature, the taste that we get in the film is enough to unsettle even the strongest of stomachs. If his appearance isn’t enough, seeing him walk on the wall, leaving behind huge holes from his heavy-footing trotting as he chases Renai around with an unsettling smile on his face and a crazed look in his eyes.
Plausibility of the Entire Experience
While the film is mostly based in fiction, part of what makes the film so horrifying is the overall real-life plausibility of astral projection and having an out-of-body experience. When Dalton suddenly slips into a coma, he has left his body and has been taken by the Man with the Red Face. The concept of Dalton wandering off too far into what Elise refers to as “The Further” is plausible as when practicing astral projection one is no longer on this plane, but is in the fifth dimension. Insidious takes the concept of astral projection and stretches it to its limits to create a horrifying plausible reality of being taken from your own body.
Perfectly Timed Jump Scares
Insidious is full of some of the best jump scares in horror history, none of which are predictable. Part of what makes Insidious’ jump scares so horrifying is that they are not just visual jump scares, but they are supported by loud sound effects, creating the perfect combination to create an ideal jump scare. A perfectly timed jump scare was when Josh hears a knock on the door and goes downstairs to lock the front door and just when we think all is well, Renai goes to check on her baby only to find a stranger standing in the corner of the room, lurking there with a smile on his face.
Strong & Unsettling Plot
Unlike many films of the horror genre, Insidious doesn’t have a simple plot-line that loses its direction when the crazed serial killer comes around—it’s far more complex than that. The events that occur throughout the film go way back to when Dalton’s father Josh had a similar experience as a child, further explained in the sequel Insidious Chapter 2. The strong plot line supports the film as a whole, so when there is a lack of jump scares or a lull in the horror, there is still a whir in the background that something is wrong, but no one can figure out what. Insidious is the ultimate film when it comes to creating an overall feeling of unease. When Renai insists that they leave the house, believing it to be haunted, and they do move, it doesn’t solve any of the issues. The film doesn’t leave any holes in the plot and still manages to unsettle the audience, giving that surge of adrenaline every horror fanatic craves.
Unsettling Music & Sound Effects
Part of what sets the scene so fantastically for Insidious is the way the score was composed with sudden jumps in volume and sound among the barely-there humming of background noise. It recreates the visual jump scare using only sound, which is not easy to do. The loud noise created by the music contrasts with the overall silence seen throughout most of the film. This contrast creates a great deal of tension as the long bouts of quiet dialogue are punctuated by loud sound effects or a sudden shout from someone. A perfect example of this would be when Renai hears noise on the baby monitor and the quiet atmosphere is quickly changed by the shout she hears come from Cali’s room.
Filmed from Entity’s Perspective
This one is not easily understood, but the way Insidious was filmed seems to be from an outsider’s perspective. While most films are made to show a story, the many pans from a single point are meant to show that the family is being watched. For example: when Renai is playing the piano and the camera comes around the corner and watches her play, we get the sense that she is not alone. This is done through the camera, and the use of single-point perspective by simply panning the camera while it remains stationary rather than have the camera move with Renai. The perspective is also achieved through a bit of shaky cam usage and a lack of focus on a single subject.
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