Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)
Although I enjoyed Insidious: Chapter 2 it was somewhat constrained by the events of the first movie. It did it best to creatively extricate itself from the corner its predecessor had painted itself in to, but it didn’t really leave much scope for a direct sequel. Hence the producers wisely elected to follow the movie up with a prequel that explored an earlier case that crossed the path of psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). This change in direction proved surprisingly beneficial for the franchise providing an opportunity to meet new characters and a new antagonist. Despite being the third entry in the series, Insidious: Chapter 3 maintains the standard set by chapters one and two and proved to be a hit at the box office and with fans alike.
Several years before The Lambert Haunting, retired psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly helps teenager Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) contact her dead mother, Lillith, who died the year before. However, she urges Quinn not to try and contact her mother again after sensing a malevolent force. Subsequently, Quinn starts seeing a mysterious figure who waves to her. After attending an audition for a school for performing arts, Quinn is distracted by the figure, leading to her being knock down by a car, leaving her bed ridden with two broken legs. Further supernatural events occur, and it soon become apparent that “the man who cannot breathe” has sinister intentions. Quinn’s brother suggests that perhaps the amateur internet demonologists Specs and Tucker (Leigh Whannell and Alex Sampson) can help, but the case proves to be beyond their experience. As matters get worse, it becomes clear that the only person who can help Quinn is Elise.
Insidious: Chapter 3 creates a sinister atmosphere within its urban setting. The apartment block in which the story is set is suitably gothic in its state of disrepair. The new supernatural antagonist is surprisingly creepy and there are several scenes in which “the man who cannot breathe” is effectively used. The oily black foot prints that appear are eerily disturbing. As with many modern horror films, the emphasis is on jumps and scares rather than violence and these are delivered efficiently. What elevates Insidious: Chapter 3 above the average are an eclectic mix of characters that are surprisingly likeable. Stefanie Scott’s Quinn Brenner is not your standard caricature of a teenage girl and is a positive protagonist. Again, Lin Shaye does most of the heavy lifting as Elise Rainier. She once again delivers a compassionate, yet vulnerable performance and she holds viewers attention when on screen. There are also some droll moments with Specs and Tucker.
The movies strengths lie in the first two acts, with the building suspense and the sinister encroachment of the supernatural into an everyday environment. The denouement, which once again takes place in “the Further”, although well executed is a little too familiar. However, Insidious: Chapter 3 is overall an entertaining instalment in the series and certainly fairs better than the Ouija franchise. It is satisfying to see a genre of film that is heavily marketed towards a teen audience, prove successful due to the presence of an older character. The film also ends with a codicil that references the impending events of the first two movies and this circular narrative does provides a good sense of continuity. Considering all the commercial pressures that exist with regard to the horror genre these days, I do like The Insidious franchise and the way it has managed to create a niche for itself.