Category Archives: Thriller

Enemy of the State (1998) Review

Time: 132 Minutes
Will Smith as Robert Clayton Dean
Gene Hackman as Edward “Brill” Lyle
Jon Voight as NSA Department Head Thomas Brian Reynolds
Regina King as Carla Dean
Loren Dean as NSA Agent Hicks
Jake Busey as Krug
Barry Pepper as NSA Agent David Pratt
Director: Tony Scott

A videotape containing footage of congressman Phil Hammersley’s murder is planted on a lawyer, Robert Dean. Government operatives, who are trying to retrieve the evidence, target him.

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Tony Scott is known for making lots of action thrillers, and Enemy of the State just might be one of his best.

Enemy of the State is consistently entertaining throughout, with an intriguing story. The stakes are relatively realistic, and the tensions is sustained from beginning to end, as there is a constant feeling of threat. That is helped by a fast pace which keeps the plot constantly moving. It almost feels like the paranoia, conspiracy and political thrillers of the 70s, but mixed with a bombastic Jerry Bruckheimer action flick. With it being about government surveillance, the film has actually aged pretty well. It is kind of funny how it reads like a post 9/11 and Patriot Act movie, but it was released back in 1998, so everything involving the NSA and future US government activities in the 2000s were almost predicted. The plot gets ridiculous at points, but it was entertaining enough that I could easily roll with it. In terms of flaws, it is a little long, and the narrative could get needlessly convoluted at times. Also, there’s some unnecessary subplot where Will Smith’s character’s wife believed that he cheated on her, and while it’s a fairly minor issue, it gets resolved so quickly that it felt like its only there to pad out the runtime.

The movie has an impressive cast. Will Smith is really good in the lead role; if I have this correct, this is one of his earliest ‘dramatic’ roles of his. He sells his character’s confusion and desperation from the situation he’s landed in, but also the humour and charisma. Gene Hackman is another big name, only making his first appearance a considerable way into the movie. He is great though, and the movie really picks up when he enters the film. He is perfectly suited as a paranoid ex-NSA operative, and the scenes between him and Smith are particularly great. Jon Voight is also effective as the villain. However, not everyone has good parts. Some notable names have relatively small parts like Tom Sizemore, Phillip Baker Hall, Gabriel Byrne, Regina King and Lisa Bonet have pretty thankless roles. 

You can tell from the opening scene that this is a Tony Scott film, his style is very much on display. There is this frenetic energy throughout, and the fast paced editing really suits this movie. The editing and cinematography help to convey the feeling that everyone’s actions are being viewed. Unsurprisingly, Scott again delivers some exhilarating and entertaining action scenes. The score from Trevor Rabin and Harry Gregson-Williams really fits the movie, especially in the action and chase scenes.

Enemy of the State isn’t without its issues, mostly with some of the writing and characters. However, it’s a solid political and espionage action thriller that was both of its time and ahead of its time. The actors (especially Will Smith and Gene Hackman) are really good, the plot is intriguing and riveting, and Tony Scott’s great direction made it even better. Well worth checking out.


Unstoppable (2010) Review

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: M – contains offensive language
Denzel Washington as Frank Barnes
Chris Pine as Will Colson
Rosario Dawson as Connie Hooper
Director: Tony Scott

An unmanned, half-mile-long freight train hurtles towards a town at breakneck speed. An engineer and a young conductor, who happen to be on the same route, must race against time to try and stop it.

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Unstoppable is a train focussed action movie from Tony Scott and would be his last film before his death. It’s not one of Scott’s best movies but it is still quite good.

The plot is pretty simple with it being about a train that won’t stop and train workers try to stop it before it causes massive damage. It’s based on true evens and you can probably figure out how it’ll end, though that’s not really a bit problem. It’s very well constructed and has a pretty tight script. It takes a little while to start, but once the train gets loose and begins speeding off, the movie really takes off and doesn’t let up till the end. The high stakes are clearly conveyed, and help to keep you invested. Helping that is the drama and development with the main two characters, which gets you invested in the story, you even get to learn a lot about them in just the first 5 minutes. It’s energetic and paced well through its 98 minute runtime, with a lot of tension and suspense.

Denzel Washington and Chris Pine are great, fitting their roles quite well. Their characters’ progressions and backstories are pretty familiar, but both actors help to sell it, especially with the convincing chemistry. Other actors like Rosario Dawson play their roles well too.

The most striking aspect of the movie however is of course Tony Scott’s direction, delivering his trademark hyperactive style to this movie, especially with the camera zooms, breakneck camerawork and quick cutting. Scott is more than familiar with action at this point, so unsurprisingly the action set pieces are well crafted, tense and fantastic, and manage to feel somewhat grounded. The final act is especially intense, and has a satisfying end.

Unstoppable is a highly energetic, stylised and tense thriller, with a good script, great performances, and has solid direction from Tony Scott.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: R16 – contains violence & offensive language
Denzel Washington as Walter Garber
John Travolta as Dennis ‘Ryder’ Ford/Mr. Blue
John Turturro as Lieutenant Vincent Camonetti
Luis Guzmán as Phil Ramos/Mr. Green
Michael Rispoli as John Johnson
James Gandolfini as the Mayor of New York
Director: Tony Scott

A subway dispatcher’s day is thrown into chaos when four armed men hijack the subway train and take the commuters as hostages. They demand USD 10 million from the mayor as ransom.

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Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123 is a remake of the 1970s hostage thriller of the same name. I did watch that 1974 original, but its been a while since I saw it, so I am viewing the 2009 version as its own movie. Overall, it is pretty good action thriller.  

The premise is pretty familiar and straightforward, it’s a hostage situation where a subway train is hijacked, and someone has to negotiate with the leader of the hijackers. The script is pretty thin, but it was suspenseful and well paced throughout, and I found it consistently entertaining. It particularly comes alive during the phone interactions between the two leads, it is vibrant, and the back and forth conversations are thrilling.

There is a great cast, but it mostly comes down to Denzel Washington and John Travolta in the lead roles. Washington is reliably good, bringing life to a character in an ordinary job who finds himself caught in a very tense situation, and he helps to get you connected to the story. Travolta plays the leader of the hijackers and that antagonist of the film. His performance is unhinged, campy, psychotic and brash, and he’s clearly having a lot of fun here. He definitely won’t work for everyone, but I liked him here. These two are the driving force of the movie and particularly made for a good pairing because of how much they contrasted against each other. Washington is grounded and underplays things, while Travolta is incredibly over the top. There’s a clear connection between the two characters and they play well off each other, with their interactions being some of the highlights of the movie. There’s also a pretty good supporting cast, with actors like John Turturro, Luis Guzman, James Gandolfini giving solid performances.

Tony Scott directs this with his trademark frenetic style (most evident in his 2000s movies), which really helps to propel things forward. The cinematography is dizzying, frantic and has vibrant colours, the editing is fast paced and flashy, and the action is pretty gripping. With this, Scott does particularly well at adding a lot of visual style to the phone conversations.

The Taking of Pelham 123 is a well made and tense hostage thriller, confidently and stylishly directed by Tony Scott, and with solid lead performances from Denzel Washington and John Travolta. Not one of Scott’s best by any means, but it is pretty good, and worth checking out.

The Covenant (2023) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Jake Gyllenhaal as Master Sgt. John Kinley
Dar Salim as Ahmed
Director: Guy Ritchie

During the war in Afghanistan, a local interpreter risks his own life to carry an injured sergeant across miles of gruelling terrain.

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The Covenant (sometimes known as Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, likely to avoid confusion with the 5 other movies also called the Covenant) was a movie that I was interested in, even just for the director. I generally like Guy Ritchie, but I particularly liked his recent string of movies of the 2020s starting with The Gentlemen. The Covenant however looks like a different movie from him, not only a war movie set in Afghanistan, but one that looked gritty and grounded and lacking the strong style that the director was known for. I thought it was quite good.

The Covenant is up there with Wrath of Man as one of Guy Ritchie’s most different movies. It is a modern war movie, and as such the story is rather familiar yet predictable. Still it works and it is executed well. It has a serious tone, tackles darker themes and showcases the consequences of the Afghanistan war, as well as the impact it had on civilian populations. There’s a good balance between the action sequences and character moments. The pacing can be a little messy and sluggish at times, but it picks up as it goes along and it is fairly riveting all the way through.

There’s a cast of good performances, but it mostly comes down to Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim; they help to elevate the screenplay and get you invested in the story. Gyllenhaal gives another reliably great performance, and Salim is incredible, probably the standout in the cast. There’s a compelling dynamic between the two characters, and the actors commit to their parts in such a way that the connection is strong and believable.

Guy Ritchie directs this well, and has made probably the least Guy Ritchie movie yet. The cinematography is strong and striking, the camera work is exceptional, and the lighting and colour pallet enhanced the story. Additionally, the editing is on point, and the sound design and mixing were excellent. The action is intense and chaotic, and realistically executed, and there are many suspenseful sequences. It lacks Ritchie’s usual style, but it is for the better in this case. While it is definitely an R rated movie, the violence is fairly restrained by the director’s standards (especially when compared to the likes of Wrath of Man). However, this probably works for the more grounded approach. Christopher Benstead has been Ritchie’s go to composer ever since The Gentlemen, and considering his scores always elevates the movies, it’s for good reason. His music does for The Covenant what it did for Wrath of Man. The phenomenal score adds another level of suspense and elevates the film to a whole other level, and its already one of the year’s best film scores.

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant is a solid and strongly directed war thriller, made better by the great performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim, good action, and an incredible score. It’s not one of Ritchie’s best, but it’s pretty good, and is worth checking out.

Fast & Furious (2009) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: M – contains violence, offensive language and sexual references
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
John Ortiz as Ramon Campos
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Laz Alonso as Fenix Calderon
Director: Justin Lin

Dominic Toretto, an ex-convict, and an FBI agent, Brian O’Connor, wish to take down heroin importer, Arturo Braga. However, they must team up and overcome their distrust to be successful.

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Compared to the other movies in the Fast and Furious franchise, I wasn’t as familiar with Fast & Furious (2009). It might’ve been the first movie from the series I watched, but that was so long ago and I barely remembered it, so I decided to check it out again. This is usually placed alongside 2 Fast 2 Furious as the worst of the franchise and having seen it I can see why, but I still enjoyed it.

The weird title implies that they were attempting a soft reboot, while having a reunion of the original Fast and Furious characters. As far as references to the previous movies go, it does have Han Lue (Sung Kang) who was in the previous movie Tokyo Drift. Otherwise, it is a continuation of the story from the first movie set 5 years later. While all the movies tied into street racing in some way, the 2009 film has something of a different story with it being about revenge. It was definitely on its way to having its shake up in approach in Fast Five. Unfortunately, the plot is pretty forgettable and isn’t particularly interesting, lacking the energy of the previous movies. Also, the plot becomes weirdly convoluted when it shouldn’t be that complicated. I feel like the key element in the Fast and Furious movies that make it stand out from just being car movies with the action being the only draw is its sincerity. That being said, the fourth movie takes itself a bit too seriously, with its considerably darker story. This doesn’t help considering that much of the movie is already silly even beyond the over the top action. A major part of the movie is how Letty (Michelle Rodrgieuz) is killed and Dom goes looking for revenge, and there’s literally a scene where he mentally recreates a crime scene which he wasn’t present for and sees her death like he’s Sherlock Holmes or something. So while I appreciate the attempt at being slightly different, it doesn’t work at being serious or fun.

The acting and characters are a bit of a mixed bag, but it was nice seeing the original Fast and Furious actors and characters reprise their roles with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster. Between them, Walker’s Brian O’Conner probably gets the most development, so there’s that at least. Gal Gadot makes her first appearance in the franchise here, but doesn’t really do a whole lot, and her character of Giselle is very underdeveloped. It’s also capped off with a very forgettable antagonist played by John Ortiz.

Justin Lin returns from the last Fast and Furious movie (Tokyo Drift) to direct the fourth installment, and the film does benefit from his slick direction. The set pieces have their moments, the stunts are great, and the scenes can get tense at times. The opening sequence is quite entertaining, unfortunately nothing else in the movie is as memorable as that first scene, or even the action of the previous movies.

Fast & Furious (2009) is best described as a stepping stone movie. It is definitely important for the main story, but even with its attempt at a soft reboot, ironically its follow up movie succeeds much better. I agree that it is one of the worst in the franchise, but it still decent enough. While the plot isn’t that interesting, it is enjoyable, especially with the solid direction and entertaining and over the top action scenes. The best thing about the movie is that it led the way for Fast Five.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) Review

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: M – contains medium level violence
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Eva Mendes as Monica Fuentes
Cole Hauser as Carter Verone
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
James Remar as Agent Markham
Director: John Singleton

Brian O’Conner, a former police officer, partners with Roman Pierce, his friend and a criminal, to bring a drug lord to justice in order to erase their criminal record.

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There are a range of reactions to the Fast and Furious movies. However, from what I’ve seen, the second installment in 2 Fast and 2 Furious is often cited as the worst of the series. After rewatching it, I can definitely see why, but I still got some enjoyment out of it.

The story and characters are fairly thin, undercooked and not that memorable. Much like the other pre-Fast Five movies, the plot is focusing on racing, but it definitely takes a step towards where F&F is today with it being about the main characters taking down a drug lord. It even does some worldbuilding despite most of the characters not returning from the first movie. It lacks the sincerity of the previous film and instead leans further into the cheese and silliness. It is openly dumb and honestly benefits from that. It is wonderfully implausible especially with the action, although relatively tame compared to the later movies of the franchise. That being said, there is a very dark scene with the main villain torturing someone which doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie. Beyond that, it is a fun enough buddy movie.

The leads in this are Paul Walker reprising his role as Brian O’Conner (the only returning character from the last movie), and Tyrese Gibson in his first appearance as Roman (who also became a major character in the series from 5 onwards). While Walker is functional but fairly bland, the two are entertaining on screen together, they have a more entertaining dynamic compared to Walker and Vin Diesel in the first movie. Gibson was particularly a fun addition, and is funny especially with his line deliveries. The other actors and characters including Eva Mendes and Ludacris (who makes his first appearance as Tej and would be another recurring F&F character) are also decent. The villain played by Cole Hauser was fairly forgettable and generic; the aforementioned torture scene was the only time where he felt threatening.

John Singleton’s direction of this movie isn’t great, but he at least made an entertaining enough movie. The action wasn’t spectacular and it usually contains some really bad CGI, but they are stylised and entertaining. While the set pieces in the previous movie are better constructed, 2 Fast and 2 Furious had probably more entertaining action scenes just for how over the top they are.

2 Fast 2 Furious is by far the worst in the franchise and is a step down from the first movie, but it is still pretty entertaining. For those who are familiar with the later movies, but not the pre Fast 5 films, it might be worth checking out just to see how much the movies have changed. Outside of that, it is a fun buddy movie, but isn’t particularly special.

Insidious: The Last Key (2018) Review

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: M – Violence, offensive language & supernatural themes
Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
Angus Sampson as Tucker
Leigh Whannell as Specs
Spencer Locke as Melissa Rainier
Caitlin Gerard as Imogen Rainier
Bruce Davison as Christian Rainier
Director: Adam Robitel

Parapsychologist Elise Rainier gets thrust into returning to her eerie childhood home where she and her family have to fight a dangerous otherworldly entity.

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In rewatching the Insidious movies in the lead up to the fifth installment The Red Door, I never checked out the fourth movie, particularly after not hearing good things. So I was curious to watch it and I liked it more than I expected.

The Last Key is still a prequel but is set between Chapter 3 and the first film. As usual, Whannell’s script finds a way to tie into the first movie, and includes some connections. Without getting into it too much, it’s clearly intended as the final Insidious movie focussing on Elise. The previous three movies focussed on a family with Elise Rainier coming to their aid in some way in a notable supporting role. Instead, The Last Key has Elise as the protagonist, now dealing with a case which is related to her childhood. As expected, anything involving Elise is pretty great. It looks into her character’s origins and it was interesting watching her backstory. Interestingly the plot is a lot more personal, and it is clearly more interested in its story than delivering scares. It does feel like the story is underdeveloped somewhat, especially with regard to the demon. I do think the demon in this movie is more effective than the one in Chapter 3, but it is still lacking somewhat.

Lin Shaye gives her best performance as Elise Rainier, taking over as protagonist in this movie. She brings such weight to her character and conveys so much here. Naturally, the next major roles would be that of Tucker and Specs played by Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell, who become somewhat co-leads alongside Shaye. There are some comedic moments involving them which were a bit much, but they had some good scenes. There are good smaller performances from actors like Josh Stewart and Bruce Davison, but most of the characters outside of the main trio are pretty underdeveloped.

I was sceptical about the direction because it didn’t have a James Wan or even Leigh Whannell behind it, but Adam Robitel’s work was pretty good. The visual effects and the design of the main demon are pretty good, the movie has an eerie atmosphere, and there’s some good tension. The setups of the scares are pretty good, especially with the camera movements. That being said, while it is a well made movie, the imagery and sequences aren’t that memorable for the most part, especially compared to the previous three movies. Most disappointing of all was the score. Despite being done by Joseph Bishara again, it’s not that memorable and it really lacks the iconic and familiar screeching of the violin which made the movies even more unnerving.

Insidious: The Last Key isn’t without its issues, and it’s not on the level of the first two movies. However, it is still decent and enjoyable on the whole, with a solid enough story and a great central performance from Lin Shaye.

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) Review

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: M
Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
Stefanie Scott as Quinn Brenner
Dermot Mulroney as Sean Brenner
Angus Sampson as Tucker
Leigh Whannell as Specs
Director: Leigh Whannell

Quinn, a young girl, reaches out to a powerful psychic to help her contact her recently deceased mother. However, her plan backfires when an evil spirit makes Quinn a host and hurts her physically.

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After writing horror movies, including the first two Insidious movies, Leigh Whannell made his directorial debut with the third chapter in the franchise. I really didn’t remember much of it as I was entering my rewatch of it, but overall I thought it was alright.

Despite the title, Chapter 3 is a prequel to the previous couple Insidious movies, focussing on a new family being affected by a demon. I wasn’t invested with them as much as I was with the Lambert family in Chapters 1 and 2. It was a more cliched and generic demon possession story. Still, it was a decent enough story, and it mostly stands on its own. Many have noted that killing the character of Elise Rainier at the end of the first movie was one of the franchise’s biggest mistakes. Given how the third movie went back in time to have a movie with her, it seems that the creators are inclined to agree. It still has the family as the main focus, but Elise has a much bigger role and plays a part in the plot from the start. Everything involving her were the most interesting parts of the movie. It provides even more backstory for the first movie, and it was nice seeing Elise team up with her sidekicks Specs and Tucker for the first time. One of the weaker parts of the movie for me was the demon. Its design is pretty good, but there’s plenty about the entity that wasn’t explained, and there wasn’t any development for it. It felt kind of disposable and could’ve been swapped out with any vague demon idea.

Stefanie Scott is pretty good in the lead role as the girl who is affected by the demon. However, the standout unsurprisingly is Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier, in an increased role here. The first couple movies had her as an intriguing character, a psychic who is very aware of the spirit world and now doubt had plenty of experiences. In Chapter 3 we get to learn a bit more about her. It really shows her struggle of not wanting to tap into the supernatural, the movie really humanised her and expanded on her. It also shows more of paranormal investigators Specs and Tucker played by Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as they were starting out before meeting Elise.

Instead of James Wan directing Insidious: Chapter 3, Leigh Whannell is helming it. It is a decent directorial debut, but you do notice the lack of Wan. The visual effects, makeup and costume design for the demon are great as always, some of the imagery is eerie, and the familiar score from Insidious is on point. It even has some of the dread and atmosphere that you’d expect. However, the jumpscares were lacking even compared to the last couple movies, and felt a little cheap.

Insidious: Chapter 3 is far from the best in the series. However, it was a pretty good and enjoyable prequel with some solid performances and was a decent directorial debut for Leigh Whannell.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: M – Supernatural themes and violence
Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert
Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert
Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert
Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
Steven Coulter as Carl
Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert
Leigh Whannell as Specs
Angus Sampson as Tucker
Director: James Wan

Josh Lambert and his family relocate to his mother’s old house in the hopes of recovering from past trauma. However, they soon encounter strange and chilling paranormal events.

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After the success of Insidious in 2010 and its cliffhanger ending, a sequel was inevitable. It seems that the films following the original weren’t that well received, even the immediate follow up by original director James Wan. However, I quite liked it.

Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up right after the first movie, so I don’t recommend watching the two movies too far apart. The story for the most part is good enough and paced steadily. There are two plotlines going on, one focussing on the main Lambert family with Josh being possessed by a demon, and the other following the characters played by Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as they investigate the demon. I found myself more interested in the latter plotline; it was interesting learning about the backstory. The Lambert family plotline had potential; Josh’s mind getting hijacked was interesting, but I felt that it could’ve been handled better. It mainly consists of haunting occurrences and jumpscares, and not much else. One thing I do like about Chapter 2 is how it continues the story instead of just rehashing the stuff in the first film. It builds on the first movie and fleshes out the story and backstory, provides context, and ties up the loose ends. Much like Insidious and much of James Wan’s other movies, the third act goes over the top and it is a little silly, but that’s to be expected. Chapter 2 isn’t without its issues. More so than the first movie, it falls into some horror cliches. Some of the dialogue is a little clunky, whether it be with some of the exposition or the comedy. While there was a good balance with its humour and scares in the first movie, Chapter 2 is a tonally unbalanced at points. The biggest issue though comes as a result as one of its biggest strengths. While it gives a lot of answers, it takes away from the feeling of the unknown and therefore much of the unsettling feeling is rather lacking. The more that is explained, the less scary it becomes. Finally, there’s a plot twist in the third act which is dated, at the very least.

Like with the first movie, the acting and character development is particularly good. Rose Byrne is believable in her part, and the movie even finds a way to bring Lin Shaye back to reprise her role of Elise, especially given that she was the standout character in the first movie. There’s also more screentime for the comic relief provided by Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson, as they are more heavily involved with the plot. The standout performance however is from Patrick Wilson, mainly because his character of Josh is now possessed by a demon, giving him the opportunity to really ham it up. He’s great, and one of my bigger complaints is that we don’t get to see as much of this throughout the movie. He really gets to shine in the third act, but I wish the descent into madness got more screentime.

James Wan’s direction once again is solid. There’s some memorable and haunting imagery, good production design, and some solid thrills. The sound mixing is superb, and Joseph Bishara’s score continues to be unnerving. It builds ominous tension over time, and you feel it mostly in the first half. While it is a more polished movie, I think the previous movie did a better job at generating the atmosphere. There are plenty of jumpscares throughout, I think they are fine, but they are a little hit or miss and aren’t nearly as effective as the last movie.

Insidious: Chapter 2 is good continuation and is almost on a similar level of the previous movie, with strong direction and good performances. It is a more polished movie and is more complete storywise, but I think the first film is slightly better if only for the atmosphere and tension it generated. Still, worth checking out if you enjoyed the first Insidious.

Insidious (2010) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: M
Patrick Wilson as Josh Lambert
Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert
Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier
Ty Simpkins as Dalton Lambert
Barbara Hershey as Lorraine Lambert
Leigh Whannell as Specs
Angus Sampson as Tucker
Director: James Wan

Josh and Renai move to a new house, seeking a fresh start. However, when their son, Dalton, mysteriously falls into a coma, paranormal events start occurring in the house.

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I previously watched the first three Insidious movies and I liked them. With the 5th film coming this year, I decided to go through the whole franchise beforehand. While the following movies had a mixed reaction, the first Insidious was received pretty well and was a hit. Over a decade later, I think it’s still pretty good and holds up today.

Insidious is yet another collaboration between director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell, and on the whole, the script is pretty good. Initially, much of the movie is familiar when it comes to ghosts and demon possessions. Still, it manages to make itself stand apart from similar movies. While it begins as a usual ghost story, it goes into different directions in the second half, especially when it starts getting into things like astral projection. Additionally, the strong family dynamic and likable characters help to get you invested in the story. From the beginning there is a real sense of doom which is sustained throughout the entirety of the movie. As I said it goes in different directions in the second half, and the third act is where some people might not like it. However, I like the departure it takes, and even enjoyed when some of the horror got a little cheesy. It also delivers an unexpected ending which was certainly put there to lead the way for a sequel. There is a lot of exposition of the movie, mostly from Lin Shaye’s character, which could’ve been trimmed down. It’s not necessarily a runtime issue since its only 100 minutes long and the pace is solid, but it does over explain some things.

The actors are great in their parts and help to bring their characters to life. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are great as the parents, and Ty Simpkins is good as the child who falls into a suspicious coma. Other actors are solid including Barbara Hershey as Wilson’s mother and a pair of paranormal investigators played by Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson. However, Lin Shaye is the standout as a psychic who comes to help the family with the paranormal activities.

James Wan delivers another well-crafted horror movie with Insidious. Interestingly, it’s a horror movie that’s PG-13 and while it easily could’ve amped up to an R rating, it achieved what it needed to here. Personally, I wasn’t scared of the movie, but nonetheless the horror was handled well. The jumpscares can be quite in your face, but they are put together well and some of them are quite clever. Most of all though, the film successfully builds up the tension and atmosphere. The desaturated colour pallet and memorable nightmarish imagery add to the tone, sense of unease and atmosphere. Finally, the instrumental score from Joseph Bishara is excellent and fits the mood of the movie well. The main theme is particularly one of the most distinct and recognisable modern day horror themes, and never fails to set me on edge and give an unsettling feeling.

Insidious is still an entertaining, tense, thrilling, greatly directed and performed supernatural horror film. I wouldn’t call it one of the best horror movies out there (even within the 2010s), but it is quite good and worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre.