‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ is a prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family (‘Insidious: Chapter 1’ and ‘Insidious: Chapter 2’) that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead, in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.
Synopsis (Warning: May contain spoilers, duh!)
The Gist of It: The third instalment to the ‘Insidious’ franchise that goes back in time to explore the origins of the psychic Elise Rainier.
Teenager Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) wants to contact her dead mother but is unable to bridge a supernatural gap between the living and the dead. Brenner reaches out to renowned psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) for help who has earned fame as a talented figure who possesses the capabilities to peep into the darker side and connect with those long gone from the face of this world. However, Elise refuses due to traumatic events that she experienced when astro-travelling the world of the dead in search of her recently deceased husband.
Not long after, Quinn starts noticing paranormal events occurring in the house and it becomes the centre of a series of vicious demon attacks. After these paranormal encounters become almost deadly, after Quinn has been seriously injured and left wheelchair bound, Quinn’s father- Sean Brenner (Dermot Mulroney)- returns to psychic Elise and begs her to reconsider her refusal; in the hopes that she will use her abilities to halt the unrelenting attacks by the furious demon that is in search of a body to possess. Elise hesitatingly agrees to help them.
Unfortunately for Quinn, the entity which has been masquerading as her mother is waiting to possess her body and will stop at nothing to get it; with Quinn’s encounters with the demon becoming more and more violent. In fact, it becomes clear that the entity has nothing other than malevolence on its mind; and after being the cause of an accident that causes Quinn to break her legs, the entity makes its presence even more obvious by appearing in full horrifying form in Quinn’s bedroom and subsequently dragging her out of bed or off her wheelchair to his lair in the apartment upstairs.
From this point onward, the real horror and drama begins.
Like the first chapter, ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ uses a hapless protagonist to draw in the audience’s sympathies; and whereas that person was the young boy Dalton who lay in a coma while his soul was imprisoned in the Further, this time around it is the wheelchair-bound Quinn whose life we fear for here. Taking over Patrick Wilson’s role of the helpless parent here is Delmot Mulroney, who depends on Quinn to look after her younger brother Alex (Tate Berney) and is left struggling to come to terms with both the death of his wife and the supernatural events that are afflicting his family. Unlike Wilson’s character, however, Sean Brenner isn’t gifted or cursed (depending on which way you look at it) to enter into the Further, instead ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ gives him the honour of being the one who first makes the connection between Quinn’s hauntings and the abandoned apartment unit directly above theirs.
Even as an origin story of sorts for Elise, ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ falls a little short. Yes, it does explain just who the old woman that was terrorising Josh Lambert (or Patrick Wilson’s character). Yes, it also explains just how Elise came to form a professional relationship with Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), the two gadgets-savvy ghostbusters who were seen in the first chapter assisting Elise and in the second avenging her death. But yet, neither of these backstories add anything more substantial, or potentially interesting, to the ‘Insidious’ mythology.
Perhaps the most damning critique of ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ is how it really is no more than a dull retread of Wan’s superior entries. ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’s vision of the Further isn’t much scarier than a haunted house in an amusement park, and it doesn’t get much more imaginative than that. ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ s so-called finale is in fact a sequence that was much better executed by Wan in the first chapter; for example, when Elise calls for a séance together with the rest of the members of the afflicted’s family and journeys into the Further in order to rescue the soul of the living trapped by one of the dead. It is one thing to remain faithful to an artistic vision already articulated, and quite another to reproduce it shoddily; unfortunately, ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ happens to do more of the latter and too little of the former.
Honestly, there isn’t anything novel that ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ conjures up that we haven’t already seen; or seen better of in the first two James Wan-directed chapters. Indeed, those who are well acquainted with Wan’s brand of horror will know that he is a master of choreographed tension; which was largely why Chapters One and Two were so edge-of-your-seat gripping. Unfortunately, this instalment of the ‘Insidious’ franchise displays no such faculty with it relying largely on soundtrack cues to get a jolt out of the audience. Whereas its predecessors were masterclasses in dread and suspense, this latest chapter hardly gets under your skin at all, lacking in the sort of carefully choreographed sequences which Wan excelled in.
If this chapter is anything to go by, the ‘Insidious’ franchise should have stopped at the last chapter; not only does it feel dull and repetitive, especially if you’ve seen its predecessors, ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ isn’t at any point genuinely scary. It relies less on a careful build-up of tension to get the most out of a moment and more on bursting that moment in our faces with a loud shriek or music cue. It doesn’t quite take the franchise forward; instead, one may even argue that it moves it backward both literally and metaphorically- a shadow of what the first two chapters were. If you’re a fan, we’d advise you to not get your hopes up, for there is only disappointment waiting in this part of the Further.
Ultimately, it is little more than a dull and uninspired retreat of the first two chapters where instead of venturing further into the ‘Insidious’ franchise, it takes a step backwards into mediocrity.
Favourite Line: “You have to be careful, if you call out to one of the dead, all of them can hear you.”
Release Date: 4th June, 2015