Starring Lin Shaye, Stefanie Scott, Dermot Mulroney
Directed by Leigh Whannell
Unto The Further once more! (Or maybe more than once, if Insidious Chapter 3 is a box office hit.) In this installment of the popular mainstream horror movie franchise, we learn even more about the demonic domain dubbed “The Further,” and we also see how spiritual psychic medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) got her ghostly groove back.
It’s a prequel, set a few years before the first film. Elise is retired. Parapsychologists Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell, who also directs) are just a couple of Joe Shmoes with a rinky-dink internet show. The Bride in Black is just getting started. The Lambert Family has yet to reach out.
Insidious Chapter 3 sets its sights on 17-year-old Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), a smart and sweet aspiring actress whose mother has recently passed away. This leaves newly-minted widower Sean (Dermot Mulroney) alone in raising Quinn and young son Alex (Tate Berney) as best he can while he juggles a job and his own grief. Shortly after Quinn visits Elise to see if the seer can contact her mother, all hell breaks loose.
I love Shaye in this role and she is an interesting character, but I must say: Elise is an evil spirit magnet! And she’s not so good at bad-guy banishment – lots more people get hurt and hounded after she comes onto the scene, and in Chapter 2 she even gets herself killed. Not a great track record.
END SPOILER ALERT
This is the first installment of the franchise not directed by James Wan (he was busy doing a little thing called Furious 7), but he’s still very much in evidence. Not only is there a wink-n-nod cameo appearance, but it’s obvious he and Whannell have been working together for so long that they both speak the same cinematic language fluently. (The partnership began in 2003 with the Saw short and hit it big a year later with the feature.)
The signature suspense and jump scares are there, and the CGI-enhanced ghosts are as ghoulish as can be. The story is satisfying, and the actors are well-cast. It’s a nice mix of the tried and true with the trio of Elise, Tucker, and Specs and the new with the Brenners.
My only real contention is that for those of us who’ve seen the first two movies, Insidious Chapter 3 is rather heavy-handed when it comes to alluding to what’s going to happen in the years to come (though in this time frame they haven’t happened yet). We get it! No need to hammer the point home again and again, and for those who haven’t seen the other two movies and who don’t get it, it’s a waste of the characters’ breaths.
Insidious Chapter 3 is more of the same, which should be comforting to fans. It also manages to stand alone nicely for newbies. Basically, it covers all the bases and is scary and suspenseful in the process.