Insidious may not be the best horror movie ever, but for my money it is the best horror film of 2011 and probably the last 5 years.  Considering we’ve had some really great films come out in those years, that’s saying a lot, I know.  But I’ve got some hella good reasons for making such a grandiose statement. So even though I’m a bit late in reporting on this film, in this case later is definitely better than never.

I don’t want to get into too many details because — as I’ve said before — it is better to know as little about movies like this prior watching them and this is definitely a flick that proves my theory.  Knowing too much, even if the film is great, is kind of like sneaking into your parents bedroom and finding your biggest Christmas present in their closet on Christmas Eve.  You still get the gift, but the fun of unwrapping the unknown is sucked right out of the whole damn thing.  Such is the case with Insidious.

The premise of the film is straightforward:  a nice, young couple (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) thinks their house is haunted.  In fact, they are indeed being haunted — just not by a house.  It takes a little trial and error to figure this out, not to mention a little outside help from Barbara Hershey as well as a paranormal research crew led by Lin Shaye (who has been in numerous horror films, perhaps most notably A Nightmare on Elm Street – 1984).  But not to worry, they do eventually figure out what’s happening — or maybe, that is exactly why they should worry.

There are so many reasons why I loved this movie so much, but the biggest reason is because the film is smart.  In a world where remakes are a dime a dozen and generally seem to almost try to mangle the original, this film instead takes elements from other great films (The Shining and Poltergeist), adds some original ideas of its own and creates a great body of work.

Some critics have said that Insidious has bastardized Poltergeist because of the striking similarities between the two films.  I completely disagree.  Whereas the two films are indeed very similar, Insidious feels more like a modern extension of Poltergeist as opposed to a bad copy.  To put it simply, if you loved Poltergeist, chances are you will also love Insidious, because the film makers paid serious homage to Poltergeist instead of whoring it out.

As I mentioned, the film also adds some color of its own that shouldn’t go unappreciated.  For instance, one of the things they did (that you rarely see), is they actually show you the monsters.  All too often, film makers take the very good idea of showing very little of the monster in order to make it more frightening by letting your imagination do all of the work and somehow manage to ruin the entire concept.  Instead of using it as a tool to highlight a monster, they use it as the monster, and that just cheats the audience and screws up a potentially good film.  If I only wanted to use my imagination to conjure up monsters, I wouldn’t bother to watch movies.

That being said, some younger viewers (under 25) may not have the same level of appreciation for this film that I did.  First, they may have never even seen Poltergeist and therefore have no way to recognize the delicate tribute Insidious gives it.  Also, the film is only rated PG-13, which in itself is enough to turn off some young viewers.  They may not love Insidious as much as older viewers, but even they can get some enjoyment out of this solid, original flick.

IMDb RATING:  Once again, I find myself in disagreement with IMDb’s rating system.  They give Insidious a 6.9 rating, which is higher than most horror films usually receive.  However, it is my belief that it deserved at least an 8.  I know it’s nitpicking, but this film deserves it.