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The UnPopular Opinion: Insidious

Jul. 25, 2012by: Alejandro Stepenberg

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THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

**** SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****


Note:
today's entry is all about endings.  SO - HERE BE MAJOR SPOILERS. 
2nd Note: this entry applies to THE CRAZIES as well. In fact, you can consider this review a discussion of the two.

And one last time - SPOILERS!

Okay.  INSIDIOUS is terrifying.  Easily one of the scariest movies I've seen in years, something genuinely frightening instead of being merely gross or discomfiting.  It's unapologetic, balls to the wall, outright horror.  And while THE CRAZIES isn't nearly as haunting, it was still successful on the scare front and an exhilarating adventure to boot.  And for 99% of the time I was completely sold on every element these two movies peddled.  The acting, scares, makeup effects, story progression, very human characters, ohesion of technical camera work with sound design - all of what makes horror stories effective both as horror and as stories was there in spades.

And then the last thirty seconds happened, that final 1%, and it was all flushed away.  Because I loathe, I absolutely hate, the endings of these two movies.  INSIDIOUS especially.  What happens in each film's final moment completely ruins for me the entire experience.  Those final moments singlehandedly ruined my enjoyment of these movies, and so when the credits rolled I was left raging at my televesion.  That rage eventualy gave way to sadness, and so I here I am.

Insidious UnPop 2

"But there are other entities who are malevolent and have a more insidious agenda. And then there's this... A demon who seeks Dalton's body for one reason - to cause pain to others."

In INSIDIOUS, the ending that just kills it for me (in the worst of ways) is how Patrick Wilson's character goes into The Further, endures some truly terrifying shit there, and brings his son back after an entire film's worth of unrelenting tension build-up.  On his way back he decides, despite being warned otherwise, to confront the particular entity (pictured below) that has haunted him his whole life.  The film implies he succeeds in defeating it, only in the last moment to reveal that he is now in fact possessed and has been transformed on an inner level into a being of hate and pain and sorrow.  And that's it.  THE CRAZIES delivers something similar, with the main characters struggling through the the violent loss of friends and family and a psychologically rending journey.  At last only two are left, and they are finally free to make their way to the nearest big city (he place they and their friends fought to reach through most of the film).  And as they walk towards it, the camera zooms out to reveal that everything they just survived is waiting for them anew in the city that they (and we) had come to believe was a safe haven at the end of their suffering.

Clive Barker, a master of both horror and storytelling if there ever was one, had this to say about the balance of darkness and light in the context of his exploration of horror:  "I think what I'm trying to do constantly is when I have these kind of journeys into empowerment, is that there is always a price for that empowerment. You have to grasp something very painful, you have to have to open yourself up to very painful experiences... The world is full of hurt. People die, people leave, the world changes radically, unpredictably; things that we love finish, things that we hate begin. The experience of the world from an early age is primarily, I think an experience of loss and pain and despair. In order to heal those feelings paradoxically you have to put yourself up to them.
.. My books are very often 'Look it's okay to be wounded, it's okay to be imperfect but be aware that the wound should not just be suffered, it should be used. It should be a way to become the richer, more loving more constructive more articulate human being."

Insidious UnPop 3

Even with my opinion INSIDIOUS being what it is, nobody will ever hear me deny that this woman is one of the most terrifying visions put on film f***ing EVER.

Now that's his subjective personal preference.  One which I happen to share, not just for the sake of this article but in my life as a general rule.  Horrors should not just be suffered, borne until they bury you.  There must be more, else why tell the story at all? Yes, I understand that things don't always work out so peachy in this life - sometimes the nastiest of monsters win, and not a single soul or shaft of light escapes.  But, IN MY OPINION, that's just not the kind of story that interests me.  I watch horror movies to confront the terrible questions and terrifying fears that lurk beneath the surface of the world and the skin of human beings, but I also watch such movies to see that terror transcended.  Maybe I watch them on the surface for the thrill of the fear, but on a sub-level I'm watching to reassure myself that there is hope.  That we do have it within us to be strong enough to withstand whatever may attempt to tear us down and rip us apart.  The other kind of story isn't interesting to me.

I believe that horror is the single most effective way to discover, explore, and explain how we should function in this world.  The supernatural removes us as audience members just enough to have a slightly objective distance, but also speaks to fears so deeply rooted that we can't help but hook in emotionally.  That's where the power of horror lies.  So when I sit down to watch a horror movie, I'm giving myself over to this story in the hope that it will give me the opportunity to face what I most fear and survive the encounter.  The idea is then that I might, in the course of that journey, discover things about myself and the world that I had not known before, and so learn better how to live in it.  By walking in the darkess I learn to know the light, and what I learned sticks with me all the more because of the journey I travelled.

The Crazies UnPop 1

"Don't ask me why I can't leave without my wife and I won't ask you why you can."

The thing is, the kind of horror that I personally enjoy is never just about being scary.  If that's the case, then I'm not interested.  I'm not a thrill seeker necessarily - as I've stressed over and over in this column already, my interest lies elsewhere in the realm of horror's possibility. As I read in a great editorial about the Academy having a double standard when it comes to rewarding/acknowledging horror movies, "Horror is not just about vampires and ghosts and ghouls, it's about confronting the darkest aspects of life, whether it be the boulder sitting on your hand or the regret for all of the heartache you've caused." That's where the teaching can come in.  And stories change us by teaching us, whether it be bluntly or subconsciously - either way they affect us and either way they transform us.  And if they aren't interested in doing so, then I'm not interested in them.

My response to endings such as those found in INSIDIOUS and THE CRAZIES is that I feel as though they have shit on everything I as a viewer and as an emotional participant in this story just went through.  To me it's disrespectful, it's dishonorable, and it's downright pointless.  And so I don't enjoy the experience.  But that's my opinion and preference, two things to which I believe I am entitled without necessarily changing what you think.  As such stories like INSIDIOUS and THE CRAZIES, while well-crafted, are just not for me.  You, however, are of course allowed to enjoy them all you want.  And if you do, then I wish you well.

The Crazies UnPop 2

"Do you wanna give up? You wanna sit here and die, tell me, and I will sit here and die with you."

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to ajstepenberg@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

Extra Tidbit: While attending the Toronto International Film Festival, writer/actor Leigh Whannell mentioned that during the writing process he kept a list of horror movie clichs on hand at all times so that he could then make sure to avoid them. The first (and most prominent) of these was to have the family move into a new house as soon as the haunting began.

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8:39AM on 07/26/2012

great point.

As Horror movie cliches go, having a depressing ending is the most common. From the moment Michael Myers got up from the front yard a disappeared, leaving us to wonder when the Boogie Man would show up again, every other horror movie did the exact same thing. You are no longer rewarded with a Happy Ending or a Triumph, only with the realization that you can never escape the darkness. This use to piss me off to no end ( and still does), but the sad thing is I've grown numb to it, and even expect
As Horror movie cliches go, having a depressing ending is the most common. From the moment Michael Myers got up from the front yard a disappeared, leaving us to wonder when the Boogie Man would show up again, every other horror movie did the exact same thing. You are no longer rewarded with a Happy Ending or a Triumph, only with the realization that you can never escape the darkness. This use to piss me off to no end ( and still does), but the sad thing is I've grown numb to it, and even expect it. It actually surprises me when there IS a happy ending.
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5:06AM on 07/26/2012
.
.
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12:44AM on 07/26/2012
I agree with you about "Insidious" in every possible way. Great score, acting, cinematography, interesting/ original story, etc. But those last 30 (or so) seconds A) make no sense, and B) really do cheat the audience. It's the worst kind of cop out.

As for "The Crazies", I disagree. I think that ending fits in with the tone of the rest of the film and does convey emotional resonance for the characters. Not a great ending, but it made sense to me.
I agree with you about "Insidious" in every possible way. Great score, acting, cinematography, interesting/ original story, etc. But those last 30 (or so) seconds A) make no sense, and B) really do cheat the audience. It's the worst kind of cop out.

As for "The Crazies", I disagree. I think that ending fits in with the tone of the rest of the film and does convey emotional resonance for the characters. Not a great ending, but it made sense to me.
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7:48PM on 07/25/2012
Agree with The Issues with INSIDIOUS. I loved the film pretty much all the way to the last act. When they brought in the paranormal researchers, the serious tone it carried throughout the whole movie kinda became a joke to me. Had he kinda pissed too.....The Crazies: Really dug that one too, but although i agree it was a hokey, "hollywood ending" I still feel that they really couldn't take it anywhere else.
Agree with The Issues with INSIDIOUS. I loved the film pretty much all the way to the last act. When they brought in the paranormal researchers, the serious tone it carried throughout the whole movie kinda became a joke to me. Had he kinda pissed too.....The Crazies: Really dug that one too, but although i agree it was a hokey, "hollywood ending" I still feel that they really couldn't take it anywhere else.
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6:51PM on 07/25/2012
If you want to see another real bummer of an ending, see The Mist.
If you want to see another real bummer of an ending, see The Mist.
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7:44PM on 07/25/2012
agreed....huge downer. right along there with "The Road"....
agreed....huge downer. right along there with "The Road"....
5:56PM on 07/25/2012

Its becoming cliche

I have to agree, I haven't seen "The Crazies" but I have seen insidious and I think that the ending is a let down. I love movies that do the twist ending well as it really can be very powerful, but when they do it half assed it feels sooo cliched and makes me feel like "Well then why did even bother to care about these characters, everything they went through was pointless". The first of the Saw franchise for example, had a great twist ending that made the hair on my next stand up, the end
I have to agree, I haven't seen "The Crazies" but I have seen insidious and I think that the ending is a let down. I love movies that do the twist ending well as it really can be very powerful, but when they do it half assed it feels sooo cliched and makes me feel like "Well then why did even bother to care about these characters, everything they went through was pointless". The first of the Saw franchise for example, had a great twist ending that made the hair on my next stand up, the end of insidious just made me feel like "Okay so the message of this movie is that you can't really win so why bother trying?"
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+2
3:03PM on 07/25/2012

You are right

I saw Insidious and The Crazies. I did not like the ending at all. They made the protagonist go through hell and when we (the audience) think that they made it out okay at the end, we get the plot twist that they are not.
I saw Insidious and The Crazies. I did not like the ending at all. They made the protagonist go through hell and when we (the audience) think that they made it out okay at the end, we get the plot twist that they are not.
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+0
2:34PM on 07/25/2012

I couldn't believe it

how freaking bad Insidious was. It got the highest praises from many so I sat down to check it out and man I was not even remotely frightened once. The scares were cheap, lazy and like the rest of the movie quite often laughable. Did not get the big deal with this flick, totally failed at everything it tried I thought but hey, if you can enjoy it all the more power to ya.
how freaking bad Insidious was. It got the highest praises from many so I sat down to check it out and man I was not even remotely frightened once. The scares were cheap, lazy and like the rest of the movie quite often laughable. Did not get the big deal with this flick, totally failed at everything it tried I thought but hey, if you can enjoy it all the more power to ya.
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2:25PM on 07/25/2012
I agree with your thoughts on Horror films and loved that quote by Clive Barker, but I just straight-up dislike both Insidious and The Crazies.
I agree with your thoughts on Horror films and loved that quote by Clive Barker, but I just straight-up dislike both Insidious and The Crazies.
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1:39PM on 07/25/2012

Good on You

VERY well written, sir. I began this article slightly annoyed because I assumed that you were about to tear apart yet another flick that I adore. And then you went and did something completely different. To my surprise and much to my chagrin: I absolutely agree with you on all points. So yeah, man. Good on you.
VERY well written, sir. I began this article slightly annoyed because I assumed that you were about to tear apart yet another flick that I adore. And then you went and did something completely different. To my surprise and much to my chagrin: I absolutely agree with you on all points. So yeah, man. Good on you.
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2:01PM on 07/25/2012
Well thank you, that's very kind of you to say. And thanks for reading as well!
Well thank you, that's very kind of you to say. And thanks for reading as well!
12:32PM on 07/25/2012
I agree that horror film endings are pretty bad, but you come to live with it. Every time I watch a horror film now, I expect the obligatory sequel-set up ending. It's expected, and I don't hate the films because of it. My most recent viewing is The Pact, and when the final shot was revealed, it was no surprise.
I agree that horror film endings are pretty bad, but you come to live with it. Every time I watch a horror film now, I expect the obligatory sequel-set up ending. It's expected, and I don't hate the films because of it. My most recent viewing is The Pact, and when the final shot was revealed, it was no surprise.
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12:30PM on 07/25/2012

I love Insidious. Even the ending

Fuck the haters. I loved all of Insidious, even the ending. That movie creeped me the fuck out and I saw it on DVD, low volume, during daytime and I still got scared shitless. As far as The Crazies goes I enjoyed it but the movie didn't really do anything for me but it was a decent horror remake than most these days.
Fuck the haters. I loved all of Insidious, even the ending. That movie creeped me the fuck out and I saw it on DVD, low volume, during daytime and I still got scared shitless. As far as The Crazies goes I enjoyed it but the movie didn't really do anything for me but it was a decent horror remake than most these days.
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12:20PM on 07/25/2012
I didn't really like the entire last third of Insidious which is too bad since I really like the first 2/3rds of it. It just went too "out there" and lost any real horror it had built up before that. I find that tidbit a bit ironic too since the ending was the most obvious horror movie cliche you'll ever see. I hate endings like that. I know horror movies like to try and be "edgy" or "dark" with their endings, but "surprising" us by bringing the bad guy, ghost, killer, monster, or whatever back
I didn't really like the entire last third of Insidious which is too bad since I really like the first 2/3rds of it. It just went too "out there" and lost any real horror it had built up before that. I find that tidbit a bit ironic too since the ending was the most obvious horror movie cliche you'll ever see. I hate endings like that. I know horror movies like to try and be "edgy" or "dark" with their endings, but "surprising" us by bringing the bad guy, ghost, killer, monster, or whatever back in the last 3 seconds of the movie got old a long time ago and kind of seems lazy.
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11:05AM on 07/25/2012

I'm a big fan of the "Fuck You" horror ending...

But both of these movies had major problems before they even scratched the last 10 minutes.
But both of these movies had major problems before they even scratched the last 10 minutes.
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10:35AM on 07/25/2012

Agreed

Well spoken...and you can add the endings of "The Mist" (absolutely horrible) and "I Am Legend" to the list. Two films which hold up reasonably well with entertaining stories and good actring...right until the point they deliver some of the worst decision in moviemaking history.
Well spoken...and you can add the endings of "The Mist" (absolutely horrible) and "I Am Legend" to the list. Two films which hold up reasonably well with entertaining stories and good actring...right until the point they deliver some of the worst decision in moviemaking history.
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11:47AM on 07/25/2012
Interestingly enough, Stephen King has actually gone on record saying he prefers the ending Frank Darabont wrote for the film to his own.
Interestingly enough, Stephen King has actually gone on record saying he prefers the ending Frank Darabont wrote for the film to his own.
9:39AM on 07/25/2012
I didn't think it was just the final few seconds of Insidious, I thought the movie began falling apart mid way through to the point that I wasn't creeped out anymore and found the last 20-30 minutes of the movie not scary and somewhat silly.

And I like the ending of the Crazies.
I didn't think it was just the final few seconds of Insidious, I thought the movie began falling apart mid way through to the point that I wasn't creeped out anymore and found the last 20-30 minutes of the movie not scary and somewhat silly.

And I like the ending of the Crazies.
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8:05AM on 07/25/2012
I've never been a fan of James Wan's films, even the original Saw. Insidious had some creepy elements for sure, but the bad acting and weak-ass ending hampered it from being anything but mediocre.
I've never been a fan of James Wan's films, even the original Saw. Insidious had some creepy elements for sure, but the bad acting and weak-ass ending hampered it from being anything but mediocre.
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7:32AM on 07/25/2012
Both endings were created for 1 reason $$$$$. Of course they had to leave it open for a sequel. This is why i hate these damn studios. I bet the writers didnt even want to end these movies in this way but the studio told them to "leave it open for the possibility of a sequel".
Both endings were created for 1 reason $$$$$. Of course they had to leave it open for a sequel. This is why i hate these damn studios. I bet the writers didnt even want to end these movies in this way but the studio told them to "leave it open for the possibility of a sequel".
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7:22AM on 07/25/2012
I actually like the ending. It reminds me of the first time I saw "Saw" where we now know Jigsaw has been lying on the floor the whole time and leave Leigh Whannell's character locked in the dark. Insidious is one terrifying movie watching experience that I don't want to endure again.
I actually like the ending. It reminds me of the first time I saw "Saw" where we now know Jigsaw has been lying on the floor the whole time and leave Leigh Whannell's character locked in the dark. Insidious is one terrifying movie watching experience that I don't want to endure again.
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6:41AM on 07/25/2012
The Crazies was destined to end that way.

The entire third act of Insidious is outright laughable. Disappointment in this movie happens well before the obvious 'twist' ending comes around.
The Crazies was destined to end that way.

The entire third act of Insidious is outright laughable. Disappointment in this movie happens well before the obvious 'twist' ending comes around.
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5:56AM on 07/25/2012
Mostly agreed. In regards to Insidious especially, the reveal that the hero has failed does nothing for the story and is a tired trope. We see this again and again, almost constantly with paranormal horror. Everything from "Drag Me to Hell" to "Nightmare on Elm Street" It's kind of sad that Slasher movies are practically the only form of horror anymore that contain cathartic endings.
Mostly agreed. In regards to Insidious especially, the reveal that the hero has failed does nothing for the story and is a tired trope. We see this again and again, almost constantly with paranormal horror. Everything from "Drag Me to Hell" to "Nightmare on Elm Street" It's kind of sad that Slasher movies are practically the only form of horror anymore that contain cathartic endings.
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4:43AM on 07/25/2012

Holy Shit.

Mark the occasion, finally an unpopular opinion that I agree with. These articles are usually like Family Circus for me. As much as I hate it and find it unfunny I still read the damn thing every Sunday.
Mark the occasion, finally an unpopular opinion that I agree with. These articles are usually like Family Circus for me. As much as I hate it and find it unfunny I still read the damn thing every Sunday.
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-13
3:39AM on 07/25/2012

Stolen Movie

This posting is dumb. Insidious is a knock off of Poltergeist. The only highlight was the Darth Maul looking demon, but that wasn't played out right. In this movie, The Dad saves the child instead of the girl. It is one of the better remakes of the horror classics, but at least acknowledge that it is a stolen plot. The Crazies was just a piece of crap. We need Original horror flicks with good music scores; like The Poltergeist. Hollywood just pumps out crap and thinks that gore is substance.
This posting is dumb. Insidious is a knock off of Poltergeist. The only highlight was the Darth Maul looking demon, but that wasn't played out right. In this movie, The Dad saves the child instead of the girl. It is one of the better remakes of the horror classics, but at least acknowledge that it is a stolen plot. The Crazies was just a piece of crap. We need Original horror flicks with good music scores; like The Poltergeist. Hollywood just pumps out crap and thinks that gore is substance. You have to feel for the characters, so when they die, you get upset and want them to survive. I just watched Monster (2010), pretty good movie. It was similar to Cloverfield, but in Cloverfield, the characters were instantly annoying and you couldn't wait for them to die just so you don't have to see them anymore. The Host was another good movie I recently saw. Hopefully Rb Zombie makes more original movie's like the Devil's Rejects. The Horror genre is suffering.
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11:20AM on 07/25/2012
A lot negative feed here. Am I wrong? You can even Google the movie and see how many comparisons it makes with the other. I have come to this sight every day for years. The guys are spot on a lot of the times, but I'm making the point that the horror genre is ridiculous. I was an avid Blockbuster customer in its existence. I couldn't believe how many horrible movies were being put out. Especially the Masters of Horror collection. Serling and Hitchcock, along with King's 2009 EW interview
A lot negative feed here. Am I wrong? You can even Google the movie and see how many comparisons it makes with the other. I have come to this sight every day for years. The guys are spot on a lot of the times, but I'm making the point that the horror genre is ridiculous. I was an avid Blockbuster customer in its existence. I couldn't believe how many horrible movies were being put out. Especially the Masters of Horror collection. Serling and Hitchcock, along with King's 2009 EW interview emphasize the importance of quality over quantity. We have a surplus of garbage that we just get fed. Not a single respectable person who admires the genre disagrees. I can't count how many times I heard people laugh and say, "what garbage, let's just watch Evil Dead 2". There's a lot of crappy old horror movies that I love on Netflix. And I do so because they are original. Anyone who actually likes that fact that Elm street and others were remade with all flash and no substance should just ignore this. Love the site, but it's just my take.
3:33AM on 07/25/2012

Agree

Although I love horror movies, I hate the fact that just about all of them feel obligated to have a "the protagonist simply can't win" ending. Some, like the otherwise AMAZING Eden Lake, seem to go out of their way to "provide" the viewer with such an ending. Well, note to writers: hey geniuses, pretty much EVERY SINGLE HORROR MOVIE EVER MADE has done the whole 'the good guy loses" twist ending, IT'S NOT A TWIST ANYMORE! If anything, it is the ultimate cliche and convention. Now granted, in
Although I love horror movies, I hate the fact that just about all of them feel obligated to have a "the protagonist simply can't win" ending. Some, like the otherwise AMAZING Eden Lake, seem to go out of their way to "provide" the viewer with such an ending. Well, note to writers: hey geniuses, pretty much EVERY SINGLE HORROR MOVIE EVER MADE has done the whole 'the good guy loses" twist ending, IT'S NOT A TWIST ANYMORE! If anything, it is the ultimate cliche and convention. Now granted, in some movies this kind of ending DOES work, like in The Descent or even the Dawn Of The Dead remake, but most of the times, it just leaves the viewer with a bitter aftertaste or even worse, feeling like he or she just wasted his or her time. If you are going to make the effort to make me care and root for the protagonist, again like in Eden Lake, don't have him or her "lose" at the end, just because it's a horror movie and that's how those are supposed to end.
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+3
2:56AM on 07/25/2012
I know what you talking about but in those 2 cases the endings were just perfect. Insidious had to end with a twist or a shock to wrap up the angle with then haunting ghost from Wilsons past and I guess the ending of Crazies was supposed to tease a sequel which never happened. If you want discuss ending that leave you as a viewer emotionaly drained and depressed you better give movies like Martyrs or Kidnapped (Secuestrados) a shot. Those movies really felt like a kick in the nuts because of
I know what you talking about but in those 2 cases the endings were just perfect. Insidious had to end with a twist or a shock to wrap up the angle with then haunting ghost from Wilsons past and I guess the ending of Crazies was supposed to tease a sequel which never happened. If you want discuss ending that leave you as a viewer emotionaly drained and depressed you better give movies like Martyrs or Kidnapped (Secuestrados) a shot. Those movies really felt like a kick in the nuts because of their endings.
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+0
2:00AM on 07/25/2012
I completely agree, though I still really dug Insidious for its 99% perfect blend of the comfortably cliche and the creative. Though the ending was too much of a cop out. I'll agree that the unfortunate twist ending is a tried and true horror trope, and works in a lot of cases, but in a film like this that strives to hit you on so many different levels and pressure points, the final scene just seems like a waste of a good opportunity to go against that particular grain and pay even more homage
I completely agree, though I still really dug Insidious for its 99% perfect blend of the comfortably cliche and the creative. Though the ending was too much of a cop out. I'll agree that the unfortunate twist ending is a tried and true horror trope, and works in a lot of cases, but in a film like this that strives to hit you on so many different levels and pressure points, the final scene just seems like a waste of a good opportunity to go against that particular grain and pay even more homage to one of its major inspirations, Poltergeist. Though I did like the rest of the film too much to condemn the whole experience. I'm glad you brought this up though.
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