WHAT I CAN APPLYDirector: James Wan
Producers: Jason Blum
Actors: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins
Writers: Leigh Whannell
Production Companies: Alliance Films, IM Global, Haunted Movies
Budget: $1.500.000 (estimated)
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Mystery
Insidious is a movie from 2010 about a family in search of help for their son, Dalton, who fell into a coma after a mysterious incident in the attic. Little do they know that there is much more to this endless sleep than meets the eye as they explore the paranormal, and rediscover the past; they key to getting their son back once and for all.
The production companies for this movie are Alliance Films, IM Global and Haunted movies. When the ident of Alliance Films comes up, there is a non-diegetic sound of a high pitched tone in the background.
Next there is a black screen coming up with all three idents spelled in a red font. They are shadowed in a reddish color and then fade upwards into a grey smoke and then each letter fades into black one by one until there is an entire black screen again.
The darkness and the blood like color that have been chosen are used to create the tension and establish the genre to the audience. Moreover, the font strongly links to the conventions of the horror genre as well.
During this entire process, there is a non-diegtic sound of scary music in the background. One can immediately tell that the music is meant to emphasise on the genre and create suspension since it is very high pitched and specific instruments have been chosen for this part.
When the name of the director, James Wan, appears it is seen within a white ball. In the beginning the audience would consider this to be an ordinary introduction of the director's name.
However, it turns out that the white ball is a lamp within a room hanging by the ceiling. The audience is immediately introduced to the first setting of a boy's room. We can notice this, due to the mise-en-scene of the bed-sheets and the small night table with toys on it next to his bed.
When the film title of the movie appears, it is very sudden and out of the blue. In addition, there is an immediate non-diegetic music of violins playing very fast and dramatically. This adds to the drama genre, since violins are very often being used in these type of films, since it is able to built up a tension within the audience.
The movie title's font is in red as well. The word 'Insidious' is written in capital letters while there is fire burning underneath it and the tips of each letter look like small horns. This could signify the devil and hell, which is definitely also contributing to the convention of the horror genre.
When the titles of the actors appear, there are shown on black and white pictures of the outside and inside of a house. The red color really stands out since it is such a strong color and a clear contrast compared to the black and white.
Again it is being projected the same way as the idents of the movie since this also fades into grey smoke.
Meanwhile, the non-diegetic music has changed completely since it is now very calm and barely hearable.
In this text, the dominant elements were the color choices, especially when there was the clear contrast with the red fond on the black and white background. This really made the audience focus on the red color and it's hint to the genre.
As in many horror movies, the color red is used as a symbol for blood, danger, flames and hell. However, in this movie, the red color fades into grey dust, which has a sort of 'ghostly' appearance over it, so it could definitely be interpreted this way.
Furthermore, the way that the media producers had chosen to light the boy's bedroom and the rest of the house as very dark and gloomy, already made the audience feel the scarifying tension. There was also a very smooth introduction to the opening on the film, when the director's name appeared in a white ball that then went over to being the lamp in the boy's bedroom. This was a very good transition and a good way of getting the audience attention, since something happened immediately.
The main theory that can be implied to this movie, is Barthes concept of the Narrative Enigma.
In this case, there is an enigma code, since the darkness e.g. lighting, and the non-diegetic music in the film refer to mystery within the movie. Moreover, there is an action code, since the chosen way of letting the font fade into a grey color, that could be interpreted as a ghost, is used to create tension and suspense to the audience.
Below you can see a a discussion from James Wan, the director of Insidious who explains why he started with a horror genre, and what he thinks of it. He believes the horror genre to be the one that every good director he knows starts out with. He is also talking about the typical development of the character. He says that the role is to make the audience care for the main character before any of the tension starts, so that the audience get up into their seats once the actual tension starts.