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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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Columban: Columban was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit’s life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor. 
<p>After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul (modern-day France) with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. </p><p>Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry and his monastic rule.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus was never a careerist or a glory-monger; he did not demand to be hailed as a king or lauded as a hero. He came to live among us, to suffer with us, and to serve us from the heart. He came to teach us how to love.

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