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Insidious Inferno (2023) Review

Insidious Inferno is the latest film from Calvin Morie McCarthy and like his previous films Conjuring: The Beyond and An Amityville Poltergeist it has a title that refers to two other genre films, neither of which it has any connection to. Regular readers will also know that I didn’t have anything good to say about them. I did, however, like his last film, Pillow Party Massacre, and the trailer for Insidious Inferno definitely grabbed my attention. As a result, I was quite curious about how this would turn out.

Monica (Stephanie Leet, Slapped! The Movie, Zombie Cats from Mars) has inherited her father’s house, a house she hates as much as she hated him while he was alive. Her husband Andre (Neil Green, Bad Samaritan, Exorcism in Utero) tells her she has to move on from it, but he can’t get over the death of his daughter from a previous marriage.

Regardless of this, they plan to live in the house long enough to fix it up and sell it, the kind of plan that never quite works out in films like these. And, true to form, they almost immediately have issues with Cameron (Erik Skybak, Kerosene, Conjuring: The Beyond) an inspector from the real estate company planning to sell the house. But that’s nothing compared to Mary (Chynna Rae Shurts, Metal Lords, The Last Slay Ride), a blind woman who knows who Andre is and warns him to leave the house because “It belongs to us.”.

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After opening with a visually impressive pair of scenes, one involving Monica, and the other Mary, Insidious Inferno takes a familiar approach to this kind of plot. Some odd locals, a nightmare sequence, Monica hearing voices nobody else does, etc. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s well enough done that it’s enjoyable.

Apart from the Inferno part of its title, Insidious Inferno also takes some of its lighting cues from Argento’s masterpiece Inferno. Coloured gels are used to enhance several important shots. The use of red lighting combined with the use of distorted sound also put me in mind of Dutch Marich’s underseen film Infernum.

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However, the real influence on Insidious Inferno is Lucio Fulci. A building with one of the seven gateways to hell in the basement, a strange blind woman and some bizarre looking creatures standing in for the zombies, this is the film whose title should have referenced The Beyond. There are even some practical gore effects. Nothing that matches Fulci’s films, but fairly decent nonetheless.

While Insidious Inferno is set in the present day, there is also an odd shot that feels like McCarthy was giving Insidious Inferno another connection to those films. In desperation, Andre calls a colleague back home for advice. Not only does he use a payphone, she answers him on a landline, and he tells her “Stay close to your phone.”. The chances of such a situation happening now are pretty much nil, and it certainly plays like a scene from an older film.

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Fans of 70s and 80s Italian horror are the natural audience for Insidious Inferno, and if you are one, you should find it to your liking. Its story has the same feeling of making its own kind of sense, while not making sense in a conventional way. There’s enough internal consistency that the plot hangs together, with the visuals helping to distract the viewer from its flaws.

More general horror fans who don’t mind that kind of storytelling should also find Insidious Inferno an enjoyable enough watch. It’s not dull and has some genuinely creepy moments, helped along by McCarthy’s cinematography and the score by Ben Eastman (Jesus I Was Evil, Nyctophobia).

Breaking Glass Pictures will release Insidious Inferno to Digital Platforms on September 5th.

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