June 9, 2015

Movie Review: Insidious - Chapter 3

Four years ago director James Wan re-teamed with his Saw co-creator, writer Leigh Whannell, to give us his first take on the haunted house story. The resulting film was called Insidious, and it was really quite good. Two years later, they gave us another go around with Insidious: Chapter 2, which proved to be another successful stab at involving mainstream horror. Of course, both films being successful at the box office, it was not that much of a stretch to see a third film in the franchise to hit theaters. However, with James Wan off making Furious 7, writer Leigh Whannell decided to pull double duty and make his directorial debut.

So, with Leigh Whannell not only the man behind the pen, but behind the camera, we take the series in a slightly different direction. Whannell proves to be up to the task of continuing to grow the world that James Wan visualized. It is clear he is not at Wan's level, but it is also pretty clear that he was paying attention and is ahead of the game for it.

Rather than continuing the tale of the haunted Lambert family of the first two films, the focus shifts to a time before those two films and brings in a new haunting victim to follow. More important than that, the focus also shifts to Elise (Lin Shaye), the psychic medium and key supporting cast member of the first two films. This was the right way to go.

Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) is a teen girl struggling with the loss of her mother. In her attempt to cope, she attempts to contact her in the spiritual realm. Since these attempts have failed, she goes to Elise for assistance. The problem is that it maybe too little too late. A rather nasty fellow has attached itself to Quinn and is attempting to drag her into the shadowy side of The Further. Can Elise save her in time?

I have to say that I quite enjoyed this outing. I do not feel it is quite up to the level of the first two, but that is not to knock this one. It did feel like it was a touch restrained and not quite as creepy, but it did a great job of developing its characters and gave us some time to get to know Elise a little bit more. Chapter 3 gives us a good primary villain in that ghostly fellow with the oxygen mask, it gives us a little more on the bride in black, and we learn about Elise. It is as much about the scares as it is character.

It may not be the roller coaster creeper that the first two were, but it still had its share of scares and we get some interesting characters and genuine emotion. There are some really great moments with Elise as we learn about her past and her work as a medium. Quinn is also a good character as we follow her efforts and desire to contact her mother.

It is not perfect and I think it falters a bit in the development of the family dynamic. We get a partial portrait of a father stretched too thin and his problems trying to help Quinn with the loss. He goes from non believer to believer too fast. Plus, the brother is just shoved aside. I think a little more growth on that front could have helped push it further.

When it comes right down to it, I quite liked Insidious: Chapter 3. It faltered a bit from the earlier outings, but the Elise-centric tale hit some strong emotional points and still delivered scares. I do, however, think this should be the last one. I suspect they may fall into a rut of repetition. Sure, I would welcome more, I just hope there would be a narrative reason to continue.


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