Insidious: A well made retread

I feel like since I was given tickets to a pre-screening the movie Insidious, I have an obligation to review it. 

When I first saw that scary lady, she made me laugh.

Insidious does something very few horror movies tend to do: it doesn’t hit an extreme.  I tend to absolutely love horror movies because they do what they wanted to do well, or I think they’re terrible, although often to the point where they are still funny.

Insidious didn’t blow me away, but then again, it wasn’t a bad movie.

Horror is a strange genre: everyone likes something different.  So let me list my favourite horror movies, to give you an idea of my taste:

  • 5 – Child’s Play
  • 4 – The Ring
  • 3 – The Omen
  • 2 – The Grudge
  • 1 – The Exorcist

So, if they had put “the” in the title, it probably would have knocked Child’s Play off the list.  Seriously though, I tend to go for more of a quiet but epic menace over a slasher.  I liked the first Friday the 13th, but after Jason Vorhees became real in Part 2, I lost interest.  I enjoyed Halloween and Halloween 2, but after that they stopped exploring the mythology, and I stopped caring.

I seem to remember liking Scream, but not enough that I remember ever going back.    I also remember liking I Know What You Did Last Summer, but I don’t know if that was about the movie…

There's a killer in this movie, right? Something is happening to make her run? Meh, who cares. Run, Jennifer, run!

But this isn’t about how I feel about all horror movies ever.  It’s about Insidious.

So, there’s nothing really new or unique about the story of concept of this movie.  It is a mish-mash of Amnityville, Poltergiest, and The Exorcist.  Those are all great movies, and even Shakespere didn’t have original ideas.  I don’t really fault them for that.  For me, it’s not about how original the idea is as how well it’s pressented.

The visuals in the movie were top notch, and I’m not just talking about Rose Byrne.

Although she certainly didn't hurt the film

It looked good.  The shots were well composed, the sets were beautiful, and the monsters, except for the old lady, were great.  The Man with Fire on His Face was the best, and they never showed you all of him at once.  You got a good look at his eye, or his claws, or a quick shot of him, but never enough to ruin his mystery.

The sound design was great too, and one of the movies greatest strengths.  The movie kept setting the atmosphere with expertly composed and placed music and sound.  It could spin the mood like a bad feeling in your gut, or make the world seem surreal.  It was unobstrusive, and you had to almost be listening for it.

One of the best things the movie did was it showed you exactly how it was going to do its jump scares, those moments where it suddenly shows you a horrifing image to make you jump in your seat.  The first several were done exactly the same way, and you fell into a pattern.  You knew when the were coming.

That’s when they changed.  They would come sooner or later than expected, and it worked so well.  Kodie jumped, and he hasn’t jumped at a scary movie since 1985.

But if you are like Kodie, and you’ve been watching horror movies since VCRs were new and neat, then you may have limited milage in this movie.  You’ve seen all the individual pieces before, in better, tighter movies.  There’s nothing wrong with Insidious, but it doesn’t really add much to the genre’s landscape.  People won’t be talking about this for years to come.  It’s going to fade into the same sort of obscurity that Bless This Child reached.  There’s nothing about it that will stay with you.

If you’re a horror fan, you’ll enjoy it, but you may not remember it.


Too Cool Too Old

I can’t tell if I’m too old for this party or if it’s too cool for me.  The apartment is small, not dirty so much as ragged, and far too crowded.  In the living room they’re blasting bass infused music that I can’t pretend to like from that close.  I have been struck somewhat shy, so I stay in the kitchen, leaning in the doorway, watching the party.  I don’t go too far from my vodka, as it remains my salvation, and I fill my glass more often than I should.

She comes up to me, the sort of brave extrovert who can’t let someone at a party have a bad time.  She is trying to draw me out.  “What’s that girly drink?”

I look at my saucer shaped glass.  “It’s a vodka martini.  It’s not that girly.”

She scoffs.  It’s been a long time since someone has scoffed at my martinis, certain the glass makes it a weak beverage.  I’m definitely too old for this party.  But the girl challenged me, so I hand her the cup.  “Try it.”

She takes a sip and her face implodes.  She hands it back, and goes back to her Sour Puss and Seven.  She poured it into another one of the stolen martini glasses, and she drinks it through a straw.  We exchange names, and she asks me what I do.

I’m never my job at parties.  I’m a writer, and more importantly, I’m a drunk writer.  I start talking about what I write.  I’m not really talking to her.  I’m enjoying the sound of my own voice, at it goes on and on about what a genius I am.  She seems impressed, nodding and asking the right questions to keep me going.

She is standing close now, head tilted up.  She runs her straw over her lips as she listens.  She’s enthralled by my monologue, but eventually I tire of it and stop.  The music gets turned up.  She sees the change in me and puts her hand on my arm.  “Are you okay?”

“I kind of hate people.”  She looks at me in disbelief.  “In large quantities.  This place is way too crowded.” I glance at the door.  “I’m going outside.

She follows me, a bit to my surprise.  I’m drunk and I’m goofy.  I walk around with my arms stretched as far as they go, along the little wall on some little old ladies little yard.  She is a few steps behind, and she’s laughing.

We reach a park, and I scramble onto the playground equipment as quickly as possible.  She hesitates, and I insist she join me.  We climb as high as we can, nearly eight feet off the ground, and I start to stare at the stars.  I’m lost in their glow.

“I’m cold,” she tells me.  She wants my jacket, but I don’t want to be cold.  Instead,  I wrap an arm around her and she melts into me.  I point out all three of the constellations I know and then kiss her.

I’m not sure when morning got here, but the alarm clock klaxons away.  It’s a terrible sound and I hate it.  She wanders out of my bed and gathers her clothes from the floor.  “Bathroom?” she asks, and I point across the hall without really looking. 

She’s gone, and if I really cared, I could probably figure out her name in the next couple of minutes.  My head hurts and I’m embarrassed, because I doubt she is twenty yet.  I’m afraid to see her drivers license, or what my roommates will say about her.  I sleep till she gets back.

“You think it’s cold out?” she asks as she comes back in.  “Can I borrow a sweater?”

I don’t want her to borrow a sweater.  Borrow implies that I’ll be back in some awkward conversation with her, sober, and responsible for whatever happened in that blank spot last night.  I force myself to somewhere near awake and head to my closet.  I select a hoodie I can live without and hand it to her.

 I’m pretty sure I was too old for that party, but I still hope it was just too cool for me.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What does statuesque mean?  It should mean her, standing out on the balcony of our hotel room.  In just a pair of black panties, she smokes just outside the sliding door, to keep the smoke detector from wailing.  Her back is arched, and nothing about her moves, apart from her lips.  She breaths tendrils of beauty up into the night, and while I dread the taste, I’m enchanted by the dissipating swirls.

She looks like marble.  It’s not just her pale skin, brushed by the pale halogen lights from the city below, sneaking up to the twentieth floor to caress her.  The stars are hiding under the heavy clouds that threaten to weep, so only the angry manmade glows illuminate her.

She looks like marble.  She looks hard, immobile. 

She looks cold.  Her touch would sap the warmth inside.  For the moment, all I want is to watch her, bare to the world and uncaring.  Pale, naked, and too powerful for the night to touch, to diminish.  I want to watch her breath fire.

The clock, the ancient relic, clicks.  It draws my attention, a cocked gun, as every digit of 2:59 flips over to 3:00. 

I want it to be 3:00 forever.

The door slides open.  The nitrogen smell of the coming rain mixes with her nicotine poison.  She’s staring at me, and there’s a violence in her eyes, a terrible hunger.  I just want to watch her smoke.  I have no more need of her cold hands, of the ashy taste of her lips.

She comes no closer, the wrath in her eyes held back by marble of her flesh.  They smoulder, those eyes, catching the red of that alarm clock.  She stands there, frozen watching me.  She is waiting.

I hear the rain drop, the one that hits the small of her back.  The one that melts her, that dilutes the anger in her eyes.  It saps her hunger, and now she is a supplicant for warmth.

Already, I miss what she was.

What does statuesque mean?  It should have meant her.

Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Writing for Depression

I read somewhere, once, in the sort of long ago that I’ll never be able to find the fact to back up what I’m about to say, that a large number of sucessful artist suffer from depression, manic depression, or are bipolar.  The percentage was way higher amongst sucessful artists than within the regular population.

And I have an entirely non-scientific, non-researched, pulling it out of my ass theory on this.

I think people create when it hurts.  I know I do.  If you have ever broken up with me, hidden away somewhere is at least fifty pages of poetry, story, and art created while I try to get over you.

No, you can’t see it.  If you think you’ve seen some of it, you are probably right.  Some of my best work has come out of that sort of frantic, pained place.  Writing doesn’t make it not hurt, but it … it postpones it a little.  It puts it aside, and you don’t have to deal with it when the pen is moving or the keys are clacking.

Which is all good and well when some cute girl is willing to break my heart, but that doesn’t happen everyday.  I’m begining to worry about my prospects as a writer.  See, at the end of a crappy day, normal things get me past it.  I can watch TV or a movie, or have a couple beers, or play some video games, and everything is okay again.  Which is all fine and good, unless you’re trying to develop a body of work.

My novels suffer for my well-adjusted state.  If it wasn’t for a half-assed effort to meet my own personal blogging requirements, this would probalby suffer more too.  Maybe I need to have a mental breakdown.  For the sake of my writing.

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Learning Something New

Earlier this week, I went for drinks with S1 and her boyfriend.  As we headed from the car to the bar, she started laughing hysterically, like a crazy person, because of a restaurant.

We looked at her as though she was laughing like a crazy person.  “Come on guys, that’s a terrible name for a restuarant.”

“What is?” I asked, not sure what I was looking at.

“Trib Steakhouse? That’s just wrong.”

BF and I looked at each other, trying to figure out what was going on.

“You’ve never heard of tribbing?  Haven’t you guys ever seen porn?”

Now, I’m not saying I’m a porn afficiando, because my Mom reads this blog.  I have been on the internet for over half my life at this point though, and I’ve seen some wonderful things, and if they had a name, I made sure I remembered them, and if they didn’t, I tried to find it.

I’ve also seen some terrible things.  You’ll only Google Image Search ‘goatse” once, and that’s two times too many.

So when I told her “No, I’ve never heard of tribbing,” I knew it was something obscure, and probably not worth worrying about whether or not you called your steak house by this rare form of erotica.

It turns out, however, that tribbing isn’t that out there.  It’s just a word that only S1 and Urban Dictionary know.  The rest of it call it like we see it.


as in "Oh my good, we're scissoring!"

Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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How to Take Over the World

Have you ever seen Mystery Science Theatre 3000? 

 If you haven’t you should have, and you’re only hurting yourself.  Basically, they watch bad movies and make fun of them.  For a good, complete look at what they do, check out this video.

The reason they have to watch the bad movies is because an evil scientist is trying to take over the world, and wants to find the worst movie ever and weaponize it.  It’s not that important to the show, just a reason why they’re doing what they do.  But I’ve recently learned that this is not the way to stop all resistance to evil.

No, you need to look no further than this man:

Weaponize this

You shouldn’t take bad movies and weaponize them.  You should take this man’s games, and just … distribute them. 

That’s Sid Meiers, and he makes the Civilization games.  I got the newest one, Civ 5 on Sunday, and I haven’t done much else since.  Seriously, if everyone was playing this, you could march your evil armies through the world and no one would care.

Because we’d all have to look after our empires instead.  Which is what I’m off to do.

Published in: on March 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment