MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ Is Worth The Price Of Admission

Insidious-Chapter-3-review

Film: Insidious: Chapter 3
Starring: Stepfanie Scott, Lin Shaye
Directed By: Leigh Whannell

Coming off a near-perfect sequel, the third Insidious film finds scares and plenty of story in new, yet familiar territory.

I assumed the second chapter of Insidious said all that needed to be said, but Chapter 3 has proven me wrong. Set years before the haunting of the Lambert’s home, the film follows a young woman (Stefanie Scott) who desperately wants to reconnect with her deceased mother, and the father (Dermot Mulroney) who is struggling to strengthen their strained relationship. It also reintroduces Elise (Lin Shaye), and shares the story of how she found the strength (and team) needed to become the spirit-battling bad-ass franchise fans know her as in the present day. The two stories are entangled in a mutual desire to say all the things left unsaid when a loved one leaves the mortal realm, and they’re intertwined with precision only series creator Leigh Whannell can deliver.

One might expect the earlier setting of the story to reflect another time period, like recent horror prequel Annabel did in 2014, but Chapter 3 appears to be set in the early 2000s. The teens use Sidekick phones, but social networks have yet to be a thing. Patrick Wilson is nowhere to be found, but Dermot Mulroney can play a bereft widower like nobody’s business. He conveys a sense of quiet heartache in every scene, though it remains unseen by his daughter and son. They feel he is absent, or at least his daughter does, and in turn she has pulled further and further away from him. The arrival of the demon, which is brought on as a result of the daughter’s desire to reconnect with her mother, is their chance for redemption.

The story of Elise is the true highlight of Chapter 3, as it expands the universe in which the franchise exists while also offering Lin Shaye a proper chance to shine. Her presence as the spine holding the entire series together was not revealed until the second film, but here we’re given her story in a way that is neither overdramatic or littered with tropes. It would have been very easy for Whannell to create a story built around her life before the Lambert family became a part of it, but instead he’s given us an original story that thrusts her character out of the reclusive lifestyle ‘The Bride’ bullied her into long before the first film began. Here she delivers the best scenes, has the best lines, and is ultimately given a more detailed existence that opens a world of possibilities for future films.

There is always something to be said for having too much of a good thing, and there are signs in Chapter 3 that Blumhouse may soon be nearing something of a creative cliff. Insidious introduced a very particular look to mainstream horror, and it has since been replicated in everything from Sinister to Poltergeist, as well as parodies like the Haunted House franchise. It works as well as ever for Chapter 3, but when coupled with familiar jump scare set-ups it’s hard to shake the feeling we’ve seen a version of everything on screen once or several times before. That’s not to say this version isn’t good, because it certainly is, but it’s all built from the same blueprint.

I hesitate to say Leigh Whannell should pen a fourth Insidious film, but Chapter 3 certainly leaves the door open for more films that I would not hesitate to watch. Every time Whannell has been challenged to outdo himself he has delivered creative horror films that continue to push the genre forward with innovative and frightening new ideas. Chapter 3 is no different, and anyone who enjoyed prior franchise installments would be a fool to miss it. Those unfamiliar will enjoy it as well, but the universe building certainly adds an extra layer of entertainment for die-hards.

GRADE: B

Written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Andrew Nguyen

    I loved the movie. It made sense and is well written and easy to follow.