insidious tagged posts

Insidious: In praise of a perfect jump scare

Something wicked this way comes in Insidious…

WARNING: This feature discusses a key shock point in 2010’s Insidious. If you have not seen Insidious, we strongly urge you to do so before reading on. As of the publish date, in the UK the film and its sequels are available on Netflix. 


The jump scare. Cinema’s poor cousin to carefully crafted dread and suspense. Why go for atmosphere when a shrieky-faced banshee in a fright wig jumping out the shadows, while a migraine of violins crashes onto the soundtrack, will get you a decent scream?

Many films are guilty of walking this lazy path. Two that always stand out for us are 2012’s The Woman in Black and 2016’s The Conjuring 2. They should have known better…

Yet, when done well, the jump scare is a feat of filmmak...

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The Nightmare (2015)

The-Nightmare-poster]Director: Rodney Ascher

Writer: Rodney Ascher

Cert: 15

Running time: 91mins

Year: 2015



The lowdown: Unnerving, disturbing and touching movie from Rodney Ascher, the director of the memorably bizarre Shining deconstruction Room 237. Here Ascher encounters eight people with sleep paralysis, a condition that leaves sufferers caught between consciousness and unconsciousness, plagued by terrifying visions. More shared experience than traditional documentary, like all nightmares early moments of unease escalate into genuine fear come the climactic scenes.

The-Nightmare---shadow-man-standing-over-womanThe-Nightmare---aliens

The full verdict: Whereas the opinions of contributors in Room 237 said more about them than The Shining, the sleep paralysis sufferers of The Nightmare appear to pinpoint fear archetypes hardwired into us all...

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The Purge

Purge_Quad_4_3_13Director: James DeMonaco

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Heady, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Rhys Wakefield, Edwin Hodge

Cert: 15

Running time: 86mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: Blumhouse Productions, the team behind the Paranormal Activity series, Sinister and Dark Skies, stick to their tried and tested formula with another budget conscious imperiled family shocker.  In 2022, America has solved its crime problem with “the Purge”, one night a year when all law is suspended and citizens are allowed to indulge their darkest desires; bad news for dad Ethan Hawke, protecting his family from marauding thugs.  A Twilight Zone idea is seasoned with extract of Straw Dogs and A Clockwork Orange in a thriller whose intriguing premise would have benefited from a larger injection of cash.

Purge - Hawke HeadyPurge - clowns

The full ve...

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Dark Skies

DARK-SKIES-Quad-Poster-535x401Director: Scott Stewart

Cast: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, J.K. Simmons, Dakota Goyo, Kaden Rockett

Cert: 15

Running time: 97mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: Another family-in-peril chiller from the producers of Insidious, Sinister and Paranormal Activity, Dark Skies should disappear into the night as just one more also ran.  But, with Legion and Priest writer/director Scott Stewart punching above his normal weight class, the ambitious plot incorporates economic woes, parental anxiety, and a coming-of-age story into an effective alien abduction tale.  Low-key horror certainly, but one that spins familiar elements into something fresh.

DS - Night standingDS - KR blue

The full verdict: The producers of Dark Skies clearly abide by the Roger Corman school of filmmaking.  Namely, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it...

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