31 Days of Horror: Film #14 INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3
When James Wan makes a movie, I buy a ticket. I like the guy. He has a good sense of pace, he’s inventive with his use of the camera, and he consistently makes some of the best horror movies of modern cinema. Though his best ghost story was The Conjuring, I thought that Insidious was a smart supernatural horror film with shades of Stephen King all done up in an original package. In Insidious, Wan and longtime collaborator Leigh Whannell (Saw) created a deep supernatural world with its own built-in mythology.
When you call out to a dead loved one, all the dead can hear you, and sometimes you draw them to you. The bad ghosts exist in this dark world called the Further, which can be accessed by mortals through dreams or psychic séances. A sequel came out a few years later and Insidious Chapter 2 built upon the world of the first film, but largely managed to make things more confusing and muddled. Overall I like Insidious Chapter 2, but it’s undeniably a step backwards in quality.
With Insidious Chapter 3, writer Leigh Whannell makes his directorial debut, taking over for Wan who was busy filming Furious 7. Instead of continuing the story of the characters from the first two films, Chapter 3 makes the decision to go back in time and tell a prequel set a few years before the events of the original film. Chapter 3 could’ve easily gone forward from the end of Chapter 2, except to do so would mean being without the best Insidious character, psychic Elise played by Lin Shaye. Considering this, I actually like the decision to go with a prequel on this occasion. All other links to the other two films are background noise to a new story about a teenage girl who tries communicating with the ghost of her mom but ends up attracting a menacing spirit instead.
Insidious Chapter 3 is a step above Chapter 2, but it lacks the style and newness of the original film, making it the second best film in the series so far. The film understands the haunting horror movie territory well and the scares and jumps register with surprising consistency. The evil spirit is original and fits this weird universe well. It’s a good little ghost story, one that can be enjoyed whether you’ve seen the original films or not. Lin Shaye is great as the psychic Elise. Shaye is a character actress with over 150 credits and has horror cred that dates back to the original Nightmare on Elm Street, and despite all of this she still feels like a recent discovery.
Insidious Chapter 2 ended with me wondering whether they’d run out of ideas for the series. After Chapter 3, I’d welcome more movies with Elise and her gang hunting down evil spirits, with the original films still lurking somewhere over the horizon as the end of the story.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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