INSIDIOUS 3 | Movie Review


Without a doubt I consider one of the best modern horror devices to be the Further.  A parallel plane of existence to our reality that houses spirits who can interact with our world.  Spirits that wander through darkness repeating some traumatic event that led to their death.  When you enter this strange reality as a living being, it looks exactly like the place you came from, except the room is very quiet and the only light you have is a lantern that helps you find your way to places built from memory and tragedy.  You can understand why some spirits would do anything to escape to our world.  Unfortunately there are also creatures that savor the darkness and would do anything to keep you in the Further with them.  It goes without saying that misery loves company.  A phrase that can be applied to any reality it seems.

In Insidious 3, directed and written by Leigh Whannell, we are transported a few years prior to the events of the first two films.  Paranormal psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) is living a sheltered life and has avoided using her abilities to contact deceased loved ones for fear of what might come after her.  A young girl named Quinn finds Elise’s home and tries to convince Elise to contact her mother.  Quinn lives in New York City with her father and younger brother.  She aspires to be an actress and is going to soon be graduating from high school, but her aspirations are tempered by her responsibilities at home since her father (Dermot Mulroney) is terrible at being a single parent.  Quinn believes her mother is trying to reach out to her, but it appears there may be something more nefarious going on in her home.  When Quinn becomes bedridden after an accident, she is forced to confront a very dangerous supernatural entity.  If only Elise could find the courage to take up her craft again and help solve this mystery lurking in the shadows.

I’ve always hoped that the story for Insidious would continue the adventures of Elise and this film does a good job of explaining her original motivations for helping people as well as how she meets her companions, Tucker and Specs (Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell).  When we are introduced to Elise in the first Insidious, she is energetic and eager to assist the Lambert family.  Her personality leaps out at you like a breathe of fresh air.  It provided a stark contrast to the dour atmosphere of hauntings and possessions from which there seemed no relief.  In this earlier version of Elise, she is saddened by the death of her husband and keeps to herself, comforted only by her dog.  She spends a good deal of the film struggling to decide whether or not to help Quinn, which only causes more harm.

The original story for Insidious was written by Leigh Whannell and this is his first attempt at directing a feature film.  You may remember Leigh as the scene partner to Cary Elwes in Saw, another one of his writing credits.  Leigh is no stranger to the horror genre and he does a respectable job of expanding the world of Insidious, with Elise at the center of it.  Unfortunately the film doesn’t focus enough on one story.  We don’t get enough of Quinn’s life to really attach ourselves because we jump to scenes of Elise at home showing us references to her past exploits.  I personally would have preferred the movie kept the attention on Elise and sped up her transition from cowering widow to demon-fighting badass, which would also make her eventual encounter with Quinn’s assailant much more sweet.  Instead we have predictable moments of a teenage girl defenseless against an invisible force, only revealing itself for those familiar jump scares.  Although as familiar as they may be, the timing of them is brilliantly executed.  Still a strong central story seemed lacking here, leaving us with a backstory forced to support the rest of the film.

Insidious 3 is the weakest of the franchise, but among other mainstream horror films it remains a very entertaining movie, so I still recommend it.  Lin Shaye provides the most compelling moments to watch and I look forward to seeing what other cases she has for us in the future.  Tucker and Specs continue to be effective characters, playfully arguing with each other over the silliest things while still managing to be adept at paranormal surveillance.  Their somewhat comedic presence may seem counterintuitive to the atmosphere this film is trying to convey, but much like Elise they offer a balance of positive energy and help keep their clients on the task at hand, which is uncovering the supernatural problem, scientifically, and removing it.  Whereas Elise provides the more hands-on experience, traveling between worlds to communicate and sometimes do battle with the dead.

Other than that the rest of the movie consists of a family that just falls flat.  Dermot Mulroney doesn’t bring much to the table and Quinn’s brother has very few scenes to the point where he becomes an afterthought.  Unlike the first film, this one takes more time trying to scare you over actually making us want to see this family rescued.  The relationship between Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne’s characters was a pivotal key to bringing the audience in emotionally and making us want to see their son delivered back to them.  Without that emotional resonance, it makes this film seem less than a successful scary film, as opposed to a successful film with scares in it.  I shouldn’t quibble over where the scares come from if they work, but since we have been getting a resurgence of really good scary stories on the big screen recently I don’t think we should have to settle.  Not when this franchise has such a good foundation.  Insidious 3 doesn’t stand on its own, but as part of a franchise it does a decent job keeping the story going.  How much story is left is really up to Leigh Whannell.  As Elise would say, into the Further we go.

INSIDIOUS 3:[usr 3]


Synopsis: 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.

Director: Leigh Whannell

Writers: Leigh Whannell

Stars: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 97 Minutes

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