Insidious: Chapter 3 Review

Lin Shaye and Leigh Whannell are back hunting evil spirits in possibly the most emotional and heartfelt Insidious movie to date. Chapter 3 tells us a bit about the psychic Elise’s (Shaye) past, before she met the Lamberts from the previous two films. She’s visited by a teenage girl, Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), who doesn’t have any visions but wants to get in touch with her recently deceased mother. After being denied by the old lady, Quinn ventures into ‘The Further’ on her own thanks to an out-of-body experience, bringing back dire consequences (a new villainous ghost) and, eventually, Elise’s help and involvement.

Quinn’s father Sean (Dermot Mulroney, who plays another Sean on Showtime’s excellent Shameless), now a widower, is a very busy man, having to work a lot in order to provide for Quinn and her brother Alex. With a demanding and forgetful father, Quinn relies on her best friend Maggie and neighbor crush Hector, who unfortunately are only in the movie during its first act. The rest of Chapter 3 is focused on the horror.

Insidious: Chapter 3 doesn’t isn’t directed by James Wan (he does have his usual cameo though), since he was probably too busy directing Furious 7. For this third installment, actor/ writer Leigh Whannell, who also worked with Wan on Saw and the previous Insidious movies, stepped up and went behind the camera. Despite being his first time directing a feature, Whannell’s experience and knowledge thanks to closely working with Wan is quite evident. For instance, having the camera move frantically during an ER scene and some great use of found footage.

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A lot of the same aesthetic Insidious elements are back, the red door for one, though this time it’s an elevator. A new element comes in the form of footsteps, pertaining to the main evil spirit. Dark, thick, oily footsteps — not bloody. It’s a nice way to distinguish Chapter 3 from the other two, using those to lead characters to new developments or rooms, as opposed to the common sounds of knocking, music, or whispering, for instance.

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And, of course, Whannell is back on camera as well, playing Specs, with his fellow “ghost buster” Tucker, pulling a Mr. T look now. Thankfully they don’t have as much screen time during the scary parts of the film as they did before, helping the atmosphere and ambience stay spooky, but they do help Chapter 3 lighten up sometimes with their comic relief. In fact, this movie puts them together with Elise for the first time, which was interesting to see if you care for these characters at all like myself.

While the previous Insidious movies never gave much attention to the dead (it was more like the living who, accidentally or not, went into The Further), part of Chapter 3’s plot is based on Quinn’s mother and also Elise’s husband, who’s also deceased but with whom she still talks to at night. That’s where the emotion I mentioned comes from. The movie deals with loss in a way these films never did before; it’s not just a desperate parent or husband trying to get their spouse or son back from The Further. It’s about closure and letting go. If you enjoyed the first two Chapters, Chapter 3 won’t disappoint you. 

Read our interview with Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye here.

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