Insidious: Chapter 3 is a prequel to the first two films of the Insidious franchise, so the Lambert family (Insidious 1 & 2) is no where to be seen, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t familiar faces (or that this movie’s any less scary). This story is about Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), a high school senior who wants to get into her favorite college for acting, but must first contend with a nagging suspicion that her mother is trying to contact her from beyond the grave. She seeks the help of retired psychic, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), but is refused service after they make contact with “The Further” (a dark realm filled with tortured spirits). Elise warns Quinn that calling out to the dead is extremely dangerous, and that doing so would mean inviting unwanted guests into their world. Almost immediately (and as expected), this cavalier teenager goes home and carelessly calls out to her dead mother, doing the exact opposite of what Elise told her not to do. Next thing you know, Quinn begins to have visions of a shadowy figure, and her bedroom becomes a hell-hole. Quinn is crippled after a ghost attack (or something), leaving her father, played by Dermont Mulroney (the guy from My Best Friend’s Wedding), to do whatever it takes to save his bedridden daughter before it’s too late.
I really enjoy the Insidious franchise because it sticks to what works, and that’s practical effects — none of this CGI hocus pocus. All their monsters are played by real actors, with real makeup, and because of this, it contributes to a gradual build up of tangible tension throughout all of these films. Leigh Whanell wrote the first two Insidious films (directed by James Wan of The Conjuring 1 & 2), but takes on double duty by adding a directorial effort to this latest installment. Usually the third film in any horror franchise is the weakest, and I would say that, in this case, this is true as well; BUT, I must admit that, pound for pound, this film might be the best “third movie” of ANY horror franchise. I could fuss and nitpick about the slow start at the beginning of the film, some of the seemingly useless characters, and also the excessive use of trailer-ready jump-scares, but I’d rather point out that this movie is well executed in terms of provoking some well-earned scares. Yes, there’s a ton of jump-scares, but these are jump-scares that are used appropriately. In this film, the jump-scares happen when you know that a character is being stalked, or that they’re in danger — you know that something is going to reach out of that dark closet to slither its way between your bedsheets to choke you with its greasy hands. That kind of stuff makes my skin crawl, and yes, my skin was crawling throughout this film. I must say that even if the last few minutes of the movie seemed carelessly tacked on, it still managed to finish off strongly right at the very end. In other words, Insidious: Chapter 3 is good, and anyone looking for a good scare will get plenty watching this film.
Fans of the Insidious franchise will not be disappointed, and anyone in the mood for horror will leave this screening with terrifying images that may linger, and transform a good night into a shadow filled sleeplessness of pure horror and paranoia. The loud and creepy violin theme music that starts off every Insidious movie is here, as if it were a stamp of approval — one, I will admit, that has been earned. Insidious: Chapter 3 will please horror fans, and if possible, knock your socks off.