I recall former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders saying, in reference to abortion, that “We must stop our love affair with the fetus.”

I feel the same way about horror films (as well as abortion, but that’s another matter) because too many of them treat children as if they’re weak, and far more fragile than they actually are.

Children have fought (and died) in wars, and worked in factories in this country at various times.

In fact, in some countries they still do.

And while I don’t agree with child labor, to pretend that they are prone to breakage is oftentimes little more than adults projecting their own fears upon their children.  This idea of children in peril is one of the reasons that I was looking forward to James Wan’s “Insidious.”  It’s a horror film in the vein of Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist” (or Steven Spielberg’s, depending upon who you ask), but has the novel approach of an individual being haunted, as opposed to an edifice.

The film is surprisingly taut, though Leigh Wannell’s–the writing partner of the director–admiration of Hooper’s film is clearly evident because “Insidious” cribs numerous details from “Poltergeist,” the “follow my voice” thing being the most blatant, though “The Further” was Poltergeist’s “The Other Side.”

Though in the case of this film copying is the sincerest form of flattery because–while there is very little that you will not have seen before, the actors take the material seriously, and director Wan handles it with a deft enough touch that the lack of originality comes off more as a homage than stealing.

Overall, “Insidious” is very strong and quite creepy, though if there’s a weak spot, I would have to say that it’s the last five minutes or so prior to the ending, which, telegraphs too obviously that something nasty is about to happen.

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