I do not like watching horror movies in general. It feels to me as a poor commercial attempt to scare and thrill. I feel ripped off time and time again. But Insidious delivered.
I felt genuine horror. It made me feel concerned as if I had kids in danger waiting for me back alone home. Let me tell you why you should crap your pants too.
World-Building and Travelling in between
Almost exactly like Stranger Things, this movie builds a darker world inversed to ours. They called it The Beyond in Insidious. Stranger Things called it The Upside Down. This place runs with us like a shadow. A passive menace always and forever attached. A void filled with floating creeping entities, hellbent on provoking misery on the living.
The Insidious movie shows the viewer that this place is reserved for those with the gift to have out-of-body experiences. These persons are coined, Travelers. These people may come and go, but some get stuck or get lost. If they do there's no telling what happened to them from the point of view of the living. Their body is a husk and their higher beings are adrift. This is the main conflict of the movie.
Have you ever traveled?
This stuff actually happens to people. Just like Sleep Paralysis, this is common. This is a seemingly Inexplicable phenomenon I personally experienced.
That’s the winning distinguishing feature. This something I personally experienced and directly puts me a risk in real life. When has a movie ever done that for someone?
At this point this not a story about John Doe in some white house in 1996 beating the devil out a girl (literally beating the devil out.) This is not about a bulletproof masked serial killer or a clown hanging out with TMNT. This is a story about what happened to you and your traveling friends as kids. Except you can not remember it.
This premise of traveling between realms is grounded on this strange phenomenon. Because of that, I do not have to suspend disbelief. I never had disbelief. This exact moment I could be watched with by a demon just like the main protagonist of the movie.
Switching gears, No Jump-Scares.
This movie heavily subverts jump scares. Another tiresome trick of the horror movie genre. Suspense is built and delivered as a hot bowl filled with roaches slid across the table. Is not gentle, but not sudden. Impactful nonetheless. The best way to describes this is to see the scene when the red-faced demon appears inches behind the Protagonist’s ear. What a scare!
The viewer was groomed and prepped from the start. They gave audio cues and an engaging story. When they switched back to the Man attentive listening he was still listening, only he had a figure behind him. The Audio was delayed for a microsecond to let you enter a state of shock. The loud escalation of score confirmed that in fact there was a demon behind this man. It was a smooth delivery. The other characters responded to this apparition. The Man reacted to their fright. To the actual threat itself. This again subverts the tiresome jump scares where mischievous entities jump from black corners to charters throats and cut the science too suddenly.