Emotion Brings Horror to Life

So, I had a blog idea all set, then I took myself to see…


And I tossed my original idea out the window.

I am a fan of the Insidious films. I’ve seen the first two oh so many times and I love them. The Lamberts fight to survive against an evil threatening to tear their family apart. The ideas in this movie fascinate me. The images send shudders of delight through my horror-loving brain.

The character who interested me the most was Elise, the psychic, the one with the power to see what haunted them, to guide them into the Further to do what had to be done.

Elise Rainier played by Lin Shaye

Elise Rainier played by Lin Shaye

When I heard that the third movie concentrated on her, I was thrilled. She’s awesome! A woman who can stare into the face of evil and calmly tell it to get the hell out! Bam!

Taking place a few years before the first film, we meet a different Elise. At this point in her life, she had withdrawn from the world, from her gift.

Why? Loss. Her husband had died and every time she tried to contact him, she met a spirit who wanted to kill her. So, she hid behind drawn curtains and curled up at night with her husband’s old sweater, her face creased with sadness.

But someone needed her. A young girl Quinn-played by Stefanie Scott-desperately wants to contact her mother on the other side, however, with that old woman waiting to kill Elise, helping isn’t an option. Elise warns her that calling out to one of the dead means calling out to them all, but it’s too late. The-man-who-can’t-breathe has found Quinn, stolen part of her soul and wants the rest.

So Elise has a choice. To stay wrapped in the dark of her emotion, sad, not living life… or find the courage to face what scares her.

I’m sure there are people who don’t like this franchise. I’m sure there will be people who don’t like this chapter in the story. Me? This one is my favorite of the trio. Why? Emotion.

Horror needs to stir emotions, the ones we try to push away, the ones that make us face the dark. Elise and Quinn stared into the shadows of grief, of living life with a loss of love. Depression stalked them as they clung to memories, calling out into the spaces around them, hoping to connect with what they lost.

Real horror lies in grief, in depression, in that all-consuming darkness that threatens everyone at some point in life. Most of us don’t battle ghosts or demons. Most of us don’t find gooey black footprints lining the floor, walls, and ceiling. Most of us don’t fear that our soul will be sucked into the in-between place of the Further.

Most of us face our emotions and move on, pushing the darkness aside… hoping it stays there. Knowing it will never truly be gone.

This movie has the creepy images all horror lovers desire. The unknown lurks in the shadows waiting to pounce. I sat at the edge of my seat, wanting to know why. Because there’s always a why. I jumped (yes, I admit it). I possibly swore under my breath. But I also cheered, smiled, and shed tears. At the end, I felt as if I had stared into the darkness with them, as if I had traveled to the Further and survived. The way it tied into the other movies made my little heart go all aflutter. Elise’s struggle to defeat her fear and use her gift to help others created a great character arc. And with Specs and Tucker, we witness the formation of Elise’s team.

Specs, played by Leigh Whannell and Tucker, played by Angus Sampson

Specs, played by Leigh Whannell and Tucker, played by Angus Sampson in a scene from Insidious 2

I love these guys… if it hadn’t been for the two other people in the theater, I would have stood up and cheered when they appeared on screen. Comic relief is important in movies that deal with the dark, and these two rock.

As I left the theater, my mind spun with how horror can tug on the heartstrings just as much as any romance or feel good story. The creepy ghosts and things lurking in the shadows are a small part of the genre. Horror takes the dark that exists within us all and forces us to face it. The dark is always there, a great unknown void waiting to swallow us if we’re not careful.

That’s scary.


*Thanks to Google Images for pics from Insidious, Insidious 2, and the Insidious Chapter 3 banner.

And thanks to Leigh Whannell for directing a great prequel!







  • Judith Post
    July 3, 2015

    Great post. I think most good fiction deals with emotions. That’s how we connect to characters. Yes, maybe even in horror:)

    • Kathy Palm
      Judith Post
      July 3, 2015

      Connecting with characters is important! And touching on those darker emotions is so delicious.

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