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Insidious: Chapter 3 Review


With a fun twist on the usual haunted house shenanigans, Insidious was one of the more enjoyable and unique horror franchises of recent years, and helped cement James Wan as 'the guy’ when it came to low budget horror. While Insidious: Chapter 2 stumbled when concerning itself more building the series’ mythology than delivering any actual scares, there was still enough there to keep fans of the series wanting more. With Wan moving into the mainstream, propelled by the success of Fast & Furious 7, the franchise is left in the hands of series screen writer Leigh Whannell, making his directorial debut with Insidious: Chapter 3, a prequel which sees the series go back to its roots.

Completely ignoring the brilliant premise that was introduced at the end of Chapter 2, that deceased psychic Elsie (Lin Shaye, whose character met her demise at the end of Chapter 1) was helping her paranormal investigating partners Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Samson) from beyond the grave, we find ourselves several years before the Lambert haunting that kicked the series off. Teenager Quinn (Stefanie Scott) has been attempting to contact her recently deceased mother, and reaches out to Elise for help. It is soon discovered a demonic presence from the dark realm of The Further has latched itself onto Quinn, and the race is on to save the young girls soul. So, pretty much the first movie again? As much as people had problems with the second movie, at least it was doing something different, being more of a supernatural mystery than an out and out horror movie. Chapter 3 feels like a massive step back, recycling the same story again with a different family (with Dermot Mulroney as the most whiny dad ever), and taking it’s sweet time about it too. The pacing is all off, with far too much time spent on the set up, and then barrelling through the pay off, with some vitally important developments seemingly happening off screen. I left the cinema asking, “What was the point?”. Sure, we got to see how Elise (who, admittedly, does get some welcome back story here, with Shaye coming across as an absolute bad ass when all is said and done) began working with Specs and Tucker, but did did that need an entire movie devoted to it? It felt more like a diversion than an actual movie.

While I don’t want to belittle Whannell’s efforts, but the absence of Wan is keenly felt. The first two movies were chock full of tension down to the fact that he knew how to manipulate the audiences expectations, like his trade mark move of delivering a scare a split second after we expected it. There is none of that here, and it all seems very straight forward with an over reliance on jump scares, and the aesthetic of The Further is toned down considerably (don’t be fooled by the trailers, ‘Tip Toe Through The Tulips’ does not make an appearance). It seems like Whannell listened to criticism that this aspect of the franchise was too weird for some people, but personally, I liked the spookiness and weirdness of it, even if its execution was a bit too over the top. It separated Insidious from all the horror movies out there, and Insidious: Chapter 3 just feels like a generic horror movie. But it’s not all bad, as Whannell does manage to inject some genuine creepiness into proceedings that carries the story forward, and somewhere down the line he could be a great horror director. The new antagonist, The Man Who Can’t Breathe, is a truly frightening creation that won’t fail to make your skin crawl, and some sequences, like the demons initial encounters with Quinn, are incredibly tense. It’s really apparent that Whannell put more effort into the horror than he did the script.

A very different animal from the first two chapters, Insidious: Chapter 3 feels a lot more subdued than previous instalments. Amid all it’s problems, there is a solid horror movie here, but it does quite a bit of digging to find it.

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The Movie Bit: Insidious: Chapter 3 Review
Insidious: Chapter 3 Review
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