The first Insidious film to be made since director James Wan jumped ship to move on to faster and furious-er things, Insidious: Chapter 3 should actually be called Insidious: Chapter 0. As the film’s marketing has already stated, this latest instalment “goes back to the beginning” – acting as a prequel leading up to the events of the first film.
Set three years before the Lambert haunting, this chapter focuses on Quinn Brenner, a teenager whose mother has recently passed away. Desperate to communicate with the ghost of her mother, she visits the reluctant psychic Elise Rainier, who warns her of the dangers of reaching out to the dead. Sure enough, it isn’t long before Quinn starts to receive some supernatural attention from an evil spirit who wants to claim her soul for his own.
What initially seems to be clutching desperately at straws, actually, surprisingly, works rather well. Leigh Whannell, writer and producer of the previous Insidious chapters – he also plays ghost hunter Specs – takes over directing duties from Wan, and crafts a solid third entry in the series.
Considering other properties such as Paranormal Activity have started to grow stale by the third film, it’s impressive that Insidious remains as scary as ever. The fact that this chapter is a prequel means that there’s enough room to craft new scares, and at the same time bring back old ‘favourites’ from the other films.
There is still a sense of familiarity in terms of the frights, with Whannell at one point recycling a famous jump scare from the first film – but there’s still enough new creative creeps that make this memorable. Amongst them include, quite literally, a bone-crunching sequence, that had me wincing and squirming through it.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of making Insidious: Chapter 3 a prequel, is the fun that’s had in developing the story of franchise favourites – psychic Elise and her eventual colleagues Specs and Tucker. Elise, played by Lin Shaye, has been the star of the films, and takes more of the spotlight this time around. Her character may have some laughably bad dialogue, but she’s still one badass pensioner, who I’d gladly go on more spooky adventures with.
Maybe it’s the fact that the series hasn’t fallen victim to the pressure of an annual release, or the fact that Whannell seems to know the world he’s created inside out, but the Insidious series is still proving that it has energy and invention, whilst other similar franchises usually run out of steam by this point. Insidious: Chapter 3 doesn’t do anything different or groundbreaking, but it’s still got plenty of solid scares throughout. Go watch it, but make sure you have somebody there to hold your hand during it.
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