Insidious (2011)

Rated PG-13. Our Ratings: V-4 ;L -1 ; S/N –1. Running time: 1 hour 41 min.

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels
fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels
fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no
longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon
was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called
the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—
he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were
thrown down with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God.
Revelation 7:7-10

Josh and Renai Lambert with their two children.

2011 Film District

The arc of the traditional horror story follows closely that of the myth of Revelation 7. The classic hor ror stories such as Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde arose in a culture still under the sway of Christianity. Evil emerged and fought against the Good, with the struggle being fierce and long, but Good won out in the end. Today this is not always so, with many filmmakers no longer accepting the Christian myth. (And also there were great profits to be made from sequels in which Jason or Freddy came back from what looked like their total destruction to prey again the unwary.)

In director James Wan’s film Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) are moving into a comfortable looking home when things start going awry, There are flashes of a spectral being dashing through, and books that won’t stay put on the shelf but fall to the floor, doors that open, and a house alarm going off in the night. At Renai’s request, the family moves to another house, not quite as grand, but hopefully ghost free. However, they soon learn that it was not the house but their son Dalton, who is haunted. He has been in an unexplainable coma since falling in the attic.

A creepy/comic trio of “ghost busters” are brought in, their leader psychic Lin Shaye (Elise Rainier) explaining that their son has been taken over by the dead and his “astral body” (or some such mumbo jumble) is in a place she calls “The Further.” There are some real scares in the film, and also a lot of hooey, plus the unsatisfying ending that reveals the filmmakers who made Saw still hold a nihilistic view of the universe and its underpinnings.

For reflection/Discussion 1. What do you think about the horror genre? Do you agree that they can be divided into the classic, with its view of an orderly universe temporarily disrupted by evil that is finally defeated; and a modern, nihilistic genre in which either evil triumphs, or is only overcome for the moment, certain to rise again? What are some films from each of the 2. Do any of the characters seem to believe in God? How might this have been of help? And yet how is this film like many others of the genre, based on either a nihilistic or a Manichaean view of the universe? Compare the film’s conclusion with the passage from the Book of Revelation.