July 21, 2015
The jump scare is the cheapest tool in a director's kit when making a horror film. The laziest of filmmakers can always slowly pan the camera around a corner and have something jump into frame with a loud musical stab and get a reaction out of the audience. I find myself falling victim to it, immediately followed by a sense of disdain for the film that “got me”.
With that being said, director James Wan has somehow managed to master the art of the jump scare, making his utilization of it dreadfully effective. No film of his is more demonstrative of this than the original Insidious (2010). Watching this movie is a white knuckle experience of pleasure and pain; pleasure in the thrill of the scares, pain in the ominous threat that another is looming around the corner.
In 2014, a uniquely crafted horror film titled It Follows hit the cinema. While finding room for conventional horror clichés, the movie also settled into an allegory of teenage promiscuity - rare for its genre. Its success was in part due to its fantastic score, written by Disasterpeace.
With a fond admiration of both films, fan editor theCuddlyNinja has removed the shock-inducing score of Insidious and replaced it with the ominously creepy soundtrack from It Follows. Because the jump scares in Insidious are tethered to its score, when the score is replaced, one gets the shocking visuals of a jump scare without the jolt of the music to overwhelm your senses. What you're left with is a sense of tension, without the release that a jump scare often facilitates. Instead of a white knuckle experience, it makes one squirm with discomfort.
This is effective throughout the entire movie, but it really shines in the film's apex of the third act. The music's dread and crescendo leading up to the moment of the protagonist, Josh, returning to his sleeping body is surprisingly effective. This is also in part due to some of the edits in the film that were made that flushed out Josh's character.
In the original, Josh is marred by having too many crests and valleys in his motivations. Trimming out Josh's reluctance to leave work and go home, the speech from his mother about his past and his original questioning of Elise's help goes a long way to make his character more convincing. This in turn helps make the film feel more grounded, without the audience losing faith in the screenplay as it tends to do in the original.
While he may have started off with just the intention of replacing the score, theCuddlyNinja has made an edit that is unique in its own right, and not just an exercise. This is an excellent complementary edit to both Insidious and It Follows. It also makes for a great study in comparing and contrasting the feel of a horror film when its score is modified. You should see this edit.
AV Quality: Top notch. A BluRay version is available and the image and sound are excellent.
Visual Editing: A handful of edits are noticeable but these are likely due to the familiarity with the original. Just about everything is invisible.
Audio editing: The inclusion of the It Follows score works terrifically. There are moments of bleed from the original score in some of the more heavily sound-effects laden moments in which they share the same audio channel. However, these are difficult to hear as theCuddlyNinja has effectively overpowered them with the Disasterpeace music. Audio levels can sometimes feel a bit too loud, but this is a small complaint and likely many viewers will prefer it this way.
Narrative: Cleaning up Josh's character is a definite improvement. Some of the very early edits around the family in their new home might not be as effective as it was intended, but nothing here is a detriment compared to the source material. Everything is consistent and even the more radical removals all go to improving the narrative. There are no noticeable plot holes or inconsistent character motivations.
Overall: This is not just an interesting edit, but a compelling one. This is an entirely different horror experience that I didn't expect and was more than surprised by its outcome. It's an excellent addition to anybody's fanedit library.
A more detailed analysis can be found on my fanedit podcast, www.featurethispodcast.com, in which I interview theCuddlyNinja himself about this edit.