Movie Review - Insidious: Chapter III
Now in theaters, comes the third installment of the highly popular franchise, Insidious. And even though James Wan isn't on board for this particular chapter of the story he helped create, they keep a continuity in the tone by handing the reigns over to co-creator, Leigh Whannell. Wan's longtime collaborator has a strong first outing as a director in his prequel to the first two chapters, where he explores Elise Rainier's life before the events of the previous films. And just when you thought you had seen it all, the writer-director reveals that he has a few tricks up his sleeve that manage to keep things exciting. As a massive fan of both James Wan and Leigh Whannell, and the franchise itself, I can definitely recommend Insidious: Chapter III to all fans of series, it won't disappoint.
Young Quinn Brenner lives at home with her dad and little brother, but she feels a sense of unrest surrounding the death of her mother only a few months before. Convinced her mother is trying to contact her and desperate for answers she goes to Elise Rainier for help, but after a quick consultation she informs Quinn that she is unable to assist her. She also warns her not to call out to her dead mother, because all of the dead can hear her. Shortly thereafter, Quinn is involved in an accident and confined to her bedroom. And it soon becomes clear that it isn't her mother reaching out to her daughter, but someone or something much more sinister. Can Elise face her demons in time to help the young girl, or will she succumb to the evil entity that has attached itself to her.
As is with any prequel or sequel, the introduction of entirely new characters into a world we already know can go one of two ways: you lose your audience, or you show that the series is greater than just the characters within its' universe. And this film is able to do that by utilizing a superb mix of fresh talent and a few series regulars to bring every subtle nuance of the script to life. Newcomer Stephanie Scott is enthralling and gives an extremely strong performance as Quinn Brenner. She effortlessly conveys a deep longing for a connection with someone she lost, and her despair is palpable. Dermot Mulroney is charming as Quinn's father, who is caught between his natural disbelief of the supernatural and his desire to protect his daughter. Angus Sampson and the writer director himself return as Tucker and Specs, and provide a healthy dose of comic relief to the film. And Lin Shaye is at her absolute finest here, whose journey from broken woman reeling from the loss of her husband to take-no-prisoners ghost hunter is a joy to watch. The bravado that she brings to the film's third act is infectious, proving that she can effortlessly carry the series on her own.
Whannell excels as both a writer and director here, constructing a seemingly straight forward narrative with a few beautiful twists and turns. And he is able to bring his chilling vision to life with the same visual texture of his predecessor. Now, although I truly enjoyed the film, it isn't without a few flaws. The first being that many of the really good jump scares the director conjures are given away in the trailer, robbing us of some seemingly awesome surprises. Secondly, despite the fact that I adore Leigh Whannell and think he's done an amazing job with the film, he pushes the pace a bit which prevents some of the long lingering tension that Wan built into the first two chapters. Consequently, the film doesn't have that slow burn that made the original so god damned scary. It's still pretty frightening, but for me it never rises to the level of the original. Regardless, Insidious: Chapter III is a promising first effort from a talented writer turned director, and I look forward to the next chapter. Now playing in theaters everywhere. Enjoy.
- Leo Francis