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Insidious (Blu-ray / DVD)

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Insidious on Blu-ray and DVDStarring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Angus Sampson, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, J. LaRose

Directed by James Wan

Written by Leigh Whannell

Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment


Finally the most profitable film of 2011 has come home to Blu-ray and DVD, and it just may even play a bit more scary at homes than it did on the big screen. Before we get into all of that, though, let’s make with a quick plot crunch.

Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) are your average couple with two young sons and a newborn daughter eating up the majority of their time. With such a big family the time has come to buy a bigger house, and that they do. The only problem? They may have just bought a hell of a lot more than just a new abode.

After their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) has an accident in the new home’s attic, the youngster seems to have gotten away relatively unscathed, but then it happens: Morning comes, and poor Dalton never wakes up. He’s alive. He’s breathing. Yet, he’s in an unexplainable comatose-like state. Unfortunately, Dalton doesn’t wake up the next morning either. Or the morning after that. After spending a great deal of time in the hospital and yielding no results at all from the doctors, the Lamberts bring the ailing child home, and that, kids, is where the real fun begins. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that from here things go wonderfully haywire in the most frightening of ways.

Insidious on Blu-ray and DVDInsidious is a little movie with big aspirations. The first half is a truly riveting and at times incredibly eerie experience that piles on the scares. A lot of people have issues with the third act as that’s where the small budget really shows. But me? I’m just glad the flick didn’t devolve into a CGI-laden shitfest, which it easily could have. Thankfully there is more than enough on-screen creepiness happening to keep viewers entertained and make the film’s shortcomings pretty damned easy to forgive.

For a more in-depth review of the film itself, check out our theatrical Insidious review here.

Now then, remember when I said that the movie plays better and scarier on the small screen? This is totally going to be dependent on how good of a stereo surround set-up you have. There’s no question the masterful DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is the star of this spookshow. Insidious is home to some of the single best and spookiest sound design work to come around in quite some time. Listening to it in the darkness of your own home will have many a chill running down your spine. Turn down the lights. Turn up your sound. I promise it’s very effective.

Of course the Blu-ray looks better than its standard definition cousin. By now that’s a given, but for those out there who need to be reassured … Black levels are spot on. Detail is sharp and crystal clear throughout. There’s really not a damn thing to complain about in terms of Paramount’s presentation of the film.

What we can complain about, however, is the notorious for the studio lack of supplemental features. We get three featurettes that run between six and eleven minutes, no commentary track and not even a trailer. Don’t get me wrong; what’s here is good, especially the Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar featurette, but everything’s over before it ever gets really cooking. This is a horribly average package for a way above average film.

Insidious just may surprise you. With it director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell prove that they’ve earned their spot in the genre and can hold their own with the best of them. Take the ride, man. It could be the spookiest one you’ll have all year.

Special Features

  • Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar featurette
  • On Set with Insidious featurette
  • Insidious Entities featurette

    Film

    4 out of 5

    Special Features

    2 1/2 out of 5

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    American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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    Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

    Directed by Colin Bemis


    Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

    The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

    As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

    Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

    In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

    On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

    In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

    Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

    • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
    3.5

    Summary

    Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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    We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

    In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

    Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

    If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

    The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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    Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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    Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

    Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


    Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

    17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

    What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

    • Film
    2.0

    Summary

    Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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