Dear Darth Maul,
I’ve missed you horribly.
It’s been over a decade now since I last saw you falling into oblivion and out of my life. Who was I kidding? I knew I wouldn’t see you again. The guy from
Moulin Rouge! Big Fish cut you in two. There’s no coming back from that.
Life went on, as it does. I
bought new toys made new friends. Got and got over the clap girlfriends. Some were even Star Wars fans. But not one of them understood my sense of loss.
Flash forward to the other night. I’d heard a lot of buzz for this movie Insidious. You know, the latest horror offering from James Wan, the guy responsible for giving us films like the original Saw and Dead Silence. Did you see those, Darth Maul? Call me and we can
duel with our lightsabers discuss their artistic merit. But really what got me in the theater was—I heard you were in it. Everyone’s been saying so.
They were wrong.
The messy tousles of hair, those teeth, those beady eyes…that’s not you.
So you passed on the role. Hey, I get it. Obviously you saw the flaws in the second act, most notably the part where the story shudders to a complete halt in order to sell the audience on a pretty far-fetched if not completely laughable concept in order to “explain” the paranormal happenings. Maybe you just didn’t like the way it ended, which I hear a lot of people didn’t. I see how it can be divisive, and to be honest, that’s why I LIKED it.
James Wan definitely took risks with the direction the film plays out. He tried some things where other filmmakers would have opted to play it safe, and you have to respect that whether you agree with the results or not.
The biggest risk was the way he handled the role you let go to a muppet.
It felt the whole time that Wan was winking at the audience, deliberately tipping his hand, saturating us with visuals of the terrible denizens from “The Further,” and, in the current world of the whole “less is more” philosophy when it comes to movie monsters, it was refreshing to get a good look at what lays in wait amid the shadows.
There was a lot of stuff to like in this movie, Darth Maul, and I bet you’re kicking yourself right about now. You didn’t count on Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne delivering actual emotion and weight as the distraught parents of a comatose child who seems to have become a ghost magnet. You didn’t count on the scares being genuine. And most of all, you didn’t figure in how the guys from the Paranormal Activity franchise would influence the feel of the film.
That’s the best part.
See, that’s the thing about Insidious. It’s not a gotcha! kind of scary movie. The scary stuff is already in the shot, and you just haven’t noticed yet. Long shots just seem to wander—from the living room, down the hallway—wait, what was that in the corner just standing there, is that AHH IT IS!!!
And that’s scary. These monsters don’t have to find you. They wait like a hellish nightmare version of Where’s Waldo? for you to find them. Terrifying.
Darth Maul, I still miss you, and I hope next time James Wan calls, you’ll at least consider picking up the phone.
And fire your agent. (I’ll be your agent. Call me.)