"Scary and heart-warming."
Unlike the first two films, Insidious: Chapter 3 is an entirely new story. Instead of dealing deeper with the haunting of the Lambert family, the movie shifts focus to psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), a minor character in the previous films. It serves as a prequel, back when Elise has hesitations in using her gift. This is quite a bold move for director Leigh Whannell who also stars in the film. But has this strategy paid off? Will it provoke more films in the franchise? Or has it just ended a very promising horror movie series?
The film opens with high school senior Quinn Brenner visiting the home of Elise. Distraught about the death of her mother from cancer one year and a half earlier, Quinn wants Elise to help her contact her in the afterlife. She has been having premonitions about her and Quinn wants some answers. Elise initially refuses but upon seeing the girl’s misery, she gives one try. With her clairvoyance, Elise finds out that the spirit that haunts her is not her mother’s but something predatory. Without telling Quinn about her discovery, Elise sends her away with a warning never to contact her again.
Soon, fear and chaos besets on the Brenner’s home. The evil spirit becomes viler and causes a fatal accident to fall on Quinn, resulting to both of her legs broken. In mold casts, Quinn becomes immobile and helpless against the torments of the ghoul. While her younger brother Alex (Tate Berney) finds ghostbuster duo Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), her estranged father Sean (Dermot Mulroney) reaches out to Elise for her help. Together, they will conquer the wicked force that preys on one’s weakness and incapability.
Insidious: Chapter 3 is a fascinating and refreshing instalment of the series as it puts a supporting character on the spotlight. We have known Elise as the strong and fearless psychic in the first two films, but here, we see her in a wide range of human emotions – grief, vulnerability, courage and resilience. We see her moments of doubt and frailty but it is even better to watch her channel her inner strength in battling evil entities and helping those caught in the rages of these forces. Shaye shines even better as she effectively provides the nuances demanded by the character.
The film also has soothing character transformations. During the possession, Sean is finally able to accept his loss and take hold of what’s left of him and Mulroney has given justice to the role. It is quite late though and Elise rises to be the heroine who saves Quinn and reunites her family. In the process, Elise also reconnects with her deceased husband and consequently deals with her own heartache. For some comic relief, it is amusing to know how Elise and her team were founded.
The movie is undeniably terrifying. Whannel ingeniously uses silences, camera angles and movements, solid images and precise timing to bring that ultimate jump scare. These are common elements of any horror flick but to employ and combine them in such accurate and perfect ways requires strict discipline and massive creativity that Whannel unarguably possesses. Some of the scary imageries in the film are the mushy black footprints, shadows on the curtain and Quinn being wheeled by the devil.
Insidious: Chapter 3 is not as scary as the first two films in the franchise. However, it has tighter plot and more emotional undercurrents which make it more substantive and moving. By focusing on Elise and her backstory, the movie is not repetitive, leading the series into full circle as well as providing venues for possible more stories in the future.