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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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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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