An Insidious Double Feature

 photo insidiousreddoor_zps6bfd1ac4.jpg

On Thursday I went to the Red Door Double Feature of Insidious and Insidious Chapter 2. I have to say, it was a cool experience and I haven’t had such a blast watching a couple of horror movies. The Conjuring was, if I can sound Boston for a second, a wicked time, but the Insidious films contain just the kind of old school chills that make them so much fun and scary at the same time. Viewing the two films back to back is recommended.

There were two reasons why I jumped at the chance to go to the red door event. First, it was a double feature, which doesn’t happen too often in first run theaters and multiplexes, and secondly, I wanted to see if the movies tie together cohesively. I can honestly tell you that they fit together so well and Chapter 2 even maintains the cliffhanger from the end of the first one for the first several minutes of the movie, which suspends the suspense for even longer. My eyes were glued to the screen waiting to see how it resolved.

The imagery in the Insidious films is so damn insanely incredible. There were 10 eyes in that sentence, I mean i’s. It would look creepier if it was eyes though. And I don’t think I’ve ever written a sentence with ten i’s until this very day. Glad you could share the moment with me. But yeah, the use of the color red as a theme in both films is not only presented in an artistic way by making the color almost become a character of its own, but also adds an elegant quality to a genre film in what’s typically a realm of often cheaply made films featuring the bulk of the budget going into designing convincing death scenes. The ghostly makeup, lighting, and the set design were all superb and helped create an eerie atmosphere that spans both films.

So far the Insidious franchise has single handedly dictated where the next movement in horror should go. Even though many of us have been yearning for a film exactly like Insidious for years, because not everyone wants to see cheesy death scenes with eyeballs popping out of peoples heads, OK, well, that was a bad example, we all want to see that. All I’m saying is that it’s been a long ass time since I went to the theater and had this much fun watching a horror film. As I mentioned, The Conjuring, was a blast too, but in a different way. Not to spoil anything if you haven’t saw it, but it ultimately becomes an exorcism film, while Insidious is just full of plain old fashioned hauntings and outer body experiences featuring demons, creeps, and ghosts.

Conjuring Up Some Jersey Connections

Usually I wait for the crowds to die down before seeing a brand new movie while it’s in the theater. Ever since Insidious and Sinister boosted my confidence in the horror genre, The Conjuring trailer had me wanting to see the movie right away. I was anxiously waiting to see it, but I held off until the second weekend to avoid crowds. On purpose, as I usually do, I chose an odd time to see the film, thinking I would avoid obnoxious people. Turns out that my strategic planning didn’t make a difference, but it didn’t matter because the experience I had watching the film overwhelmingly outweighed the annoying people who surrounded me.

Judging by both box office receipts and reviews, I can tell you that The Conjuring is a superior horror film and it’s success is no fluke. It seems like behind every success story is some type of New Jersey connection. The Conjuring made me feel like I was part of the Perron family as they moved into an old, possibly haunted farmhouse in Rhode Island. Eventually the audience is just as mortified as the Perrons are, but they shouldn’t be shocked at what they see since they moved there from New Jersey – a minuscule bit of trivia that is only mentioned nonchalantly by Roger Perron, the man of the house, in all his ’70s glory, played perfectly by Ron Livingston (Office Space). Roger’s wife, Carolyn (Lili Taylor), enlists Ed and Lorraine Warren, a real life couple of paranormal investigators who also teach classes on demonology.

March 2013’s Garden State Playmate, and now well known for her incredible performance as Norma Bates on Bates Motel, the lovely Vera Farmiga, plays Lorraine Warren while Patrick Wilson, star of Watchmen, and Montclair, NJ resident, plays her husband Ed. Together they visit houses that may be haunted and try to get to the source of the issue by postulating realistic reasons for what caused their “bump in the night.” That isn’t all they do for the Perron family though. You’ll have to go see that for yourself.

The Conjuring is a throwback. It’s the type of creepy film that they just don’t seem to make anymore, and damn it was just plain fun. Director James Wan and his team mixed classic movie thrills with practical effects to create an extremely tense and scary atmosphere. Wilson and Farmiga carry the film, but Taylor, Livingston, as well as the actresses who played Perron’s daughters all give outstanding performances.