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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Insidious

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Patrick Wilson, Ty Simpkins and Rose Byrne star in a scene from the movie "Insidious."
An awful place, The Further is. The farther you go into this hellish territory that provides the setting for much of "Insidious" (FilmDistrict), the more it looks like a reasonably ambitious Halloween house, complete with garish zombies popping out of windows, closets and walls, a fog machine and a cackling old lady or two.

Such is the mash-up nature of this horror homage that borrows liberally from older films in the genre such as "Poltergeist" and "The Amityville Horror" to create a workmanlike blend of cliches, droll sendups and banal references to a spiritual existence beyond the grave.

Director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell break no new ground. But the use of 1960s pop phenom Tiny Tim's falsetto warbling of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" at certain key moments does lend the proceedings a sort of geeky charm.

If you can manage to sit tight through an entire hour of disconnected spooky doings—involving a family fleeing what they think is a haunted house—medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her ghostbusting team, Specs and Tucker (Whannell and Angus Sampson), eventually explain it all for you.

Dalton (Ty Simpkins)—the oldest child of feckless couple Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne)—falls into what doctors call an unexplained coma. It's not.

Dalton doesn't dream at night; he uses astral projection to visit The Further, a Stygian netherworld of dead souls and red-faced devils who, evidently, are big fans of Tiny Tim. Now poor Dalton is stuck there, and all manner of creepy-crawlies have been coming around his bedroom to try to take over his physical body.

Who shall rescue him? Dalton's father, it seems, doesn't know best, but Elise has a plan.

Along the way, a Catholic priest, Father Martin (John Henry Binder), makes an appearance for about as long as it takes to read this sentence. He offers no advice, tells hospitable Renai "Thanks for the tea," and departs as Josh reminds his wife that she's never been religious.

So this astral plane of tortured spirits is purely secular? Well, at least that approach keeps bad theology from being added to the mix.

The film contains fleeting crude and profane language and intense but nonviolent scenes involving children. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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Stephen of Mar Saba: A "do not disturb" sign helped today's saint find holiness and peace. 
<p>Stephen of Mar Saba was the nephew of St. John Damascene, who introduced the young boy to monastic life beginning at age 10. When he reached 24, Stephen served the community in a variety of ways, including guest master. After some time he asked permission to live a hermit's life. The answer from the abbot was yes and no: Stephen could follow his preferred lifestyle during the week, but on weekends he was to offer his skills as a counselor. Stephen placed a note on the door of his cell: "Forgive me, Fathers, in the name of the Lord, but please do not disturb me except on Saturdays and Sundays." </p><p>Despite his calling to prayer and quiet, Stephen displayed uncanny skills with people and was a valued spiritual guide. </p><p>His biographer and disciple wrote about Stephen: "Whatever help, spiritual or material, he was asked to give, he gave. He received and honored all with the same kindness. He possessed nothing and lacked nothing. In total poverty he possessed all things." </p><p>Stephen died in 794.</p> American Catholic Blog Father, grant us the grace to be humble and content to place ourselves at your service. You know the role you want us to play in your kingdom. Following where you lead is the only sure way to find success and enjoy the adventure. We ask your grace to know this, in Jesus's name, Amen.


 
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