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1. INSIDIOUS

Director: James Wan
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell
Can’t believe that Insidious sits atop our list here? You clearly didn’t see Saw co-creators James Wan (director) and Leigh Whannell’ (writer) supernatural chiller in a packed theater. More than any other mainstream horror movie in lord knows how long, Insidious elicited emphatic yelps, nervous laughter, and fervent applause, and we took part in it all.

Cleverly throwing things back to trippy spook-flicks like Carnival Of Souls and Poltergeist, Wan’s wildly directed scary movie is, in many ways, the anti-Saw, his and Whannell’s defiant attempt to shake the “torture porn kings” tag off their backs; with hardly any blood and frights delivered through sound design and perfectly timed jump scares, Insidious does just that.

For horror fans, it’s also a cool example of how credible actors can elevate schlocky material. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, both critically appreciated, bless Wan with the cache of having typically non-horror performers gamely play through some of very bizarre story beats, such as a warped séance via gas mask, an alternate dimension populated by ghouls in white makeup, and a scary old lady who’s actually a dude.

Produced for a measly $1 million, Insidious has grossed more than $53 mil domestically, making it the year’s most profitable movie so far. For our money, it’s also the year’s best.

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