Insidious baffles from the get-go, but the truly impressive feat pulled off by Jerry Schram’s directorial debut is that it manages to become exponentially more incomprehensible as it progresses. What the film’s title has to do with its story is beyond me, as is the point of its plot, which involves independent filmmaker Donny (James Schram), mob boss Gigetto (Augustus Diorio), band manager Glock (Lou Martini Jr.) and other assorted characters whose relationships to each other are next to inexplicable. Schram introduces his characters via vignette snapshots—broken up by arbitrary shots of New York City streets set to third-rate jazz—that immediately leave one disoriented, and confusion amplifies once Schram focuses on Donny’s plight getting funding for his new project. Bitchy undercover cops yell at the Russian hooker they’re using to spy on Gigetto, Donny screams at a professor who gave him an “F” for refusing to do the nasty, and Glock’s spurned wife gets a tabloid reporter to gain dirt on her hubby for use in divorce proceedings, three storylines that are far less coherently constructed than this sentence would imply. There isn’t a single decent shot in Insidious but Schram’s directorial failings pale in comparison to his writing blunders, as his script—aside from failing to invent a single sound character—seems to have been hastily made up on the spot. Each scene feels so unrelated to those that both precede and follow it that the film eventually winds up resembling a series of haphazardly workshopped acting exercises performed by untrained thespians. The pinnacle of random impenetrability is the midpoint appearance by Schram himself as thought-to-be-dead musician Duke, who casually explains to his long-grieving girlfriend that he didn’t get in touch because after the bomb went off in his hotel, he had amnesia and then, once his memory returned, he stayed underground (with Gigetto’s help) in order to find his would-be killer. It’s a scene that, like the rest of the story, makes absolutely no freaking sense, though it does touch upon two conditions—memory loss and death—that would be preferable to sitting through this incompetent indie again.
- Romantic Troubadour Entertainment
- 96 min
- Jerry Schram
- Jerry Schram
- Augustus Diorio, James Schram, Lou Martini Jr., Brenda Cooney, Karen Sours, Megan Corry, Jerry Schram
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: