Insidious: (def.) – proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects.

Saw Insidious last night, 9:35 showing at Bella Terra, we got there 45 minutes early and landed in the middle of a wide, long line that curved in on itself to remain indoors. There is nothing like seeing a scary movie on Friday the 13th. They say that live theater has more immediacy than watching a film, that the communal experience is enhanced by the fact that we are connecting with real people right in front of us, like it is purer somehow, but I don’t know, tonight the excitement was like a sickness. 

A couple weeks ago I went to go see a play in one of those tiny Hollywood theaters. WeHo, lots of gay dudes wearing those longish tight shorts, that me, moms and golfers only love. “Woman Are Crazy Because Men Are Assholes” was the title. I heard about it on LA Talk Radio, the writer seemed cool, guy wrote it as a play knowing it could never be a movie, the LA Times wrote a good review. I’m trying to do that sort of thing more (a for every live sporting event, one play sort of agreement) but really it was kind of a let down and I think part of it was that I didn’t buy into that communal experience.

The audience was just a little too pretty and laughed a little too hard, the self-consciousness was palpable. Then there was this weird I should have been up there, it could have been us vibe afterwards. The same vibe that happens in the LA literary reading scene sometimes. Maybe my assumption–that I was essentially watching actors watch other actors–is just me projecting, I love and hate LA equally, just like the next guy…but tonight at the megaplex in the middle of the burbs, well, there wasn’t none of that.

On KPCC this morning, Alex Cohen had a fascinating segment about those girls in Massachusetts that started developing twitches and other involuntary vocalizations and such, to the point that two of them even “died of” suicide (a friend told me that’s the new sensitive way to phrase it). It was pretty radical for KPCC to cover that story I think, but I guess if the Atlantic vouches for it then you can’t be considered a lunatic, because it feels like more of a George Noory “Coast to Coast” type story. The expert she had on was talking about how normal it is for psychological disturbances to manifest in the body. Chewing on pens, sweaty hands, stomach in knots, that sort of thing. Then she explained how basically on a subconscious level humans are so vulnerable to suggestion that it’s easy for us to pick up on each other cues. I guess the case with the girls is still a mystery but it might be an extreme example of this, was her point. Anyway, it’s all very interesting.

So tonight in the movie I was very conscious of all this I guess, as it felt almost impossible not to bounce with anxiety, or clutch the boyfriend’s arm with my sweaty fingers. Impossible not to join in on those communal gasps and screams and the inevitable laughter that comes immediately after.

The funny thing is, even though I went into it feeling very nostalgic for my teenage years, my “Cindy” years-–kids were everywhere, so young and vibrant it should be a crime–I was also sort of annoyed by the girls, so giddy with anticipation, so eager to willingly surrender to the fear. Pull it together ladies, I thought, glancing at the chain of five girls shrinking into a single lopsided unit, crawling on top of each other during the horror previews. They are previews for god’s sake, save some for later!

But I’m glad they didn’t. They are right, that is, what it is all about. Without feeding off each other it couldn’t possibly be as good.

I should have thanked them.

 

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