Insidious and the Future of the Horror Genre


If you’ve even kept half an ear to the ground of the international horror scene over the past decade or so, you can’t have missed Insidious, the haunted-house horror from the minds of James Wan and Leigh Whannel, the duo behind cult slasher flick Saw. I say this because I am someone with my ear permanently stuck to the floor (like that bit in Blair Witch Project!) and constantly on the look out for cool new horror movies, and when I saw the hype surrounding Insidious I swore I would see it as soon as I possibly could. So I did.

I think Insidious falls broadly under the banner of horror movies for people who aren’t necessarily fans of horror. The kind of people who might fancy a scary movie from time to time, but who don’t feel the need to terrify themselves into involuntarily bowel spasms with the likes of Ju-on or Grave Encounters. You get films, like ABCs of Death or Cabin in the Woods, that cater very specifically to fans of the genre, and then you get more populist fare like The Conjuring or Sinister or Insidious that are by no means bad movies, but movies that rely on their audience not to know the tropes of the genre back to front (if anyone’s interested, the best movie of those three is Sinister, with some genuinely twisted scares and Stephen King-y atmosphere).

And I realize that this might come across as a bit snobbish, but the fact of the matter is that when I sit down to watch something like Insidious I can see most of the scares before they come within spitting distance of the plot. And I imagine it’s the same for most horror fans who’ve seen the classic haunted house movies- The Amityville Horror, House on Haunted Hill, The Innocents, amongst countless other favourites. And that doesn’t mean that the film is bad, necessarily- in fact, Insidious is a pretty well-made movie with solid performances and a perfectly serviceable script. But the problems arise from the fact that the haunted house genre is one so packed full of other brilliantly made movies – movies that are seared into the collective memories of horror film fans all over the world – that presenting a movie full of predictable jump scares and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night (or, indeed, whenever anyone is home alone for too long) leaves most horror fans with kind of a shrug.

I think what it boils down to is a distinct lack of creativity in mainstream horror movies over the last few years. Yes, there have been some gems tucked away in there, with Rob Zombie’s divisive Lords of Salem and the classic Cabin in the Woods, but for the most part filmmakers know that creating a boundary-pushing, genre-defying flick isn’t what most audiences are keen to go and see when there are any number of consistently creepy, if less interesting, movies kicking around. It’s great to see horror swinging back round to the mainstream again, but what we really need is some innovative filmmakers to blend populist scares with subversive thrills to really give the genre a shot in the arm.


About thethreepennyguignol

I'm a journalism graduate with a horror obsession bordering on a body count. Other hobbies include writing about music, films, and radio. Follow my blog The Cutprice Guignol for larks and intellectual discussion a-plenty.

Posted on 13/04/2015, in blogging, cinema, Entertainment, Film, Horror, Movies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Insidious and the Future of the Horror Genre.

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