31 Days of Reviews: Insidious Chapter 3 (2015)

After a young woman faces a near death experience, she becomes the victim of a spirit with some insidious motives.

I’ve always been a huge fan of James Wan’s films, which led me to watch Insidious and Insidious Chapter 2. When I heard Insidious Chapter 3 was in production, I was extraordinarily excited (even knowing that Wan wasn’t directing this time).

In the case of Insidious Chapter 3, longtime Wan-collaborator, Leigh Whannell makes his directorial debut. Fans may remember Whannell from his work as a writer and actor for the first two Insidious films, as well as his previous writing and acting work through the first three Saw films, Dead Silence, and Death Sentence, as well as others.

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 10.33.14 PM

Insidious Chapter 3 is a prequel to the original film, taking place three years before it. I was wondering how it was all going to tie together, and it doesn’t take long to realize that everything is connected through Elise (Lin Shaye), our favorite Insidious psychic. Chapter 3 definitely focuses more on Elise, exploring more into her own character and backstory than we’ve seen previously. I liked that fact. Lin Shaye puts forth a good performance in the work she does, and I didn’t think Chapter 3 was any different. It was nice to finally see the spotlight put on her for once.

By posing this film as a prequel, Insidious Chapter 3 is more of a stand alone film which can be fun for new viewers. There are some little bread crumbs laid out to excite fans of the other films, and we get short cameos from previous Insidious entities, but that’s about it. The film brings back ghost hunters Specs and Tucker (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson) with a bit of origin story that ties in with the backstory of Elise.

The big bad spirit in Insidious Chapter 3 is probably the most twisted so far that we’ve seen in the series. I feel that the movies fare better when they just plop the spirit into the setting and let it wreak havoc rather than spending any time explaining how the spirit came to be. Unlike Chapter 2, this film does a good job of giving just enough to keep audiences on edge without letting the story drag. The scares in the film aren’t bad. The problems that I saw were more in the story.

The young woman and her family start out as the main characters in this film, but are soon set aside. In a way, this is disconcerting. The film spends a large portion of time fleshing out these characters, but in the end, they never go anywhere. The young woman, Quinn (Stefanie Scott), is dealing with the recent loss of her mother and trying to keep her life together. At the same time, her father (Dermot Mulroney) is also dealing with the loss of his wife, and he’s expecting her to take on too much responsibility to help out. In the end, these characters definitely get set aside for the more prominent story of Elise. There are other characters that are completely forgotten about. This could have been an issue in the writing of the film, or it could have been a decision made by producers or made on the cutting room floor.

Insidious Chapter 3 does have some good scares. It sticks with the overall feel of the first two films, with music and certain camera work. The jarring sound effects are still present to give you a fright. While each scare has a decent build up that gets you freaked out, the actual moment itself is a jump scare. I personally have no problem with this. To me, a scare is a scare, and I can appreciate if they were able to sneak one up on me. I know a lot of others feel differently though.

While Insidious Chapter 3 is not a bad film, it’s not the best film in the series. That title still sits with the original. If you’re new to the series, and looking to pick a film to start, I’d still recommend the original Insidious. Chapter 3 is definitely your average scary movie. I did enjoy it, and it helped that I watched it at night. That definitely amps up the fear factor.

“If you call out to one of the dead, all of them can hear you”

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