Insidious: Chapter 3, 2015.
Directed by Leigh Whannell.
Starring Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson and Michael Reid MacKay.
A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.
Making an effective horror film is simple in theory, but for whatever reason is never executed properly by studios, writers, or directors. All that is necessary are characters likable enough to care about, and appropriate pacing built on tension (not jump scares) and an escalation of danger. Start off with some mild scares and odd occurrences, and build off of it to a finale where the stakes are high.
Insidious: Chapter 3 marks franchise supporting actor Leigh Whannell in the director’s chair for the first time of his career, and he seems to understand how to competently cover all the bases and conjure up a demon story that makes for a decent movie, and one on par with the rest of the series. This is still a very flawed movie with many continuity errors, gaps in logic, and frustrating narrative decisions, but it did creep me out and was consistently entertaining. Furthermore, that’s all I’m really asking for out of a summer blockbuster horror movie.
While Insidious: Chapter 3 does bear similarities to your standard modern-day PG-13 horror flick, there is a surprising amount of creativity and uniqueness to the whole experience that undoubtedly stands out, winning audiences over. There is a decision to have Quinn, a teenage girl on the verge of high school graduation, suffer from a major accident that leaves her wheelchair-bound for the majority of the haunting, which is something not seen often but a plot device that paves the way for a few scenes of harrowing tension. These situations are often taken advantage of from a cinematography standpoint too, most notably when this demon tosses Quinn off of her own bed onto her stomach, leaving viewers seeing what she sees; the feet of a decayed, vile looking ghoul.
This eerie and menacing villain is much more terrifying than Darth Maul’s reject brother from the original films, and is legitimately frightening. He loves to torture our protagonist but calculates his attacks in a very methodical and sinister way, often pacing around the room leaving the audience holding their breath at what this twisted creature is scheming up next. He also has a name; The Man Who Can’t Breathe, and wears a breathing mask over his face which looks like it has been covered in dirt and never cleaned for about five years.
Aside from having a villain that is simultaneously a pleasure and displeasure to have on-screen, Insidious: Chapter 3 also has characters that you will actually want to see survive. Emotions are played on as Quinn tries contacting her mother from beyond the grave, which at one point leads to a demented possession scene where she taunts her father about the death against her will. The scene plays like a throwback to The Exorcist and is just one highlight of many unnerving moments that gradually become more sinister as the movie progresses.
It’s also nice having a father that doesn’t spend half of the movie questioning the freaky paranormal happenings, but is instead in the corner of his daughter for the majority of the movie. Then there is Elise who also stars in this prequel, which evolves into a tale regarding how she regained the courage to help those who accidentally bring unwanted spirits upon themselves. At its core, Insidious: Chapter 3 deals with the tragedy of lost loved ones and finding the strength to move on, but does so with a cast of likable characters all defined by good performances. The script might be awful and full of hokey dialogue occasionally, but the heart of the narrative is in the right place and works well enough alongside the barrage of scares.
Dialogue issues aside, the script also suffers from introducing a number of supporting characters early on only to completely forget about them for the remaining duration of the film. Most notably is a lovesick boy that clearly cares about Quinn but just disappears without actually being written out. She also has a brother that should have been cut entirely out of the film considering he is given absolutely nothing to do and actually just bogs down the story. There are scenes where the father isn’t home and the demon is preying on Quinn, but he never comes to check up on her, even as she is screaming her lungs out from a combination of fright and pain.
Elise also goes from to horrified to ever help anyone again, to a fearless badass thanks to a one scene discussion with a character that just pops up in the movie out of nowhere. I’m glad she got her confidence back considering Lin Shaye makes the most out of fighting demons as an elderly lady given cringe-worthy lines, but the logic getting there leaves a lot to be desired.
Narrative shortcomings summarize Insidious: Chapter 3 in a nutshell; there are gross looking demons and sympathetic protagonists, but the script feels like a rough draft. It needed someone to go over it and flesh out the development of various plot points and to dial back on the amount of cheesy lines. Regardless, for a horror sequel on its third entry this is shockingly good when all indications pointed to another slice of bland mainstream horror.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook