Horror Movie Review: Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)


Insidious was one of the best mainstream horror movies in the last 5 years, at least in my opinion anyway. In my review of the film, I praised its cinematography, acting, soundtrack and ability to build tension while creating a genuinely creepy atmosphere. As you would expect there were a few jump scares used but it didn’t feel as if it depended on them to be scary, I gave it an 8/10. Insidious: Chapter 2 continued with what made the first film so enjoyable, UnholyDarklotus gave the film a 7/10 which is a score I would agree with. Two years on we have Insidious: Chapter 3, the biggest change being that the director of the first and second (James Wan) was nowhere to be seen. This was something that gave me a bad feeling about what I was going to see but anyway let’s have a look at Insidious: Chapter 3 and see if it can live up to expectations.

This film is a prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her spiritual ability to contact the dead to help Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), a teenage girl whose mother Lillith (Ele Keats) has recently passed. Quinn believes that Lillith has been attempting to reach out to her through the spirit world so she visits Elise for a reading. Elise is unable to complete the reading; she stops after hearing a demonic presence who threatens to kill her. She warns Quinn to stop trying to reach out to her mother on her own and that if “you call out to one of the dead; all of them can hear you.”

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Soon after, Quinn begins to hear noises at night and notices more supernatural occurrences. She skips school the next day to audition for a theatre academy in New York. Before going onstage, she notices a dark figure waving to her offstage. She ends up botching her audition however, due to her overbearing Father who has given her responsibilities like taking care of her brother, and managing the house, which resulted in her forgetting her lines.

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Later that night, she meets with her friend Maggie (Hayley Kiyoko), and discusses her unhappiness with her Father’s strictness and his lack of enthusiasm over her dreams. As they cross the street, Quinn sees the same dark figure waving down the street and stops to look, causing her to be hit by a car. The accident temporarily leaves her in a wheelchair with two broken legs in casts. Her father, Sean (Dermot Mulroney), puts her in bed, with a bell to ring if she needs him. That night, she is woken by the sound of the bell ringing by itself, scaring her. The following night, she hears a knock on her wall. Assuming it is her next door neighbour Hector, she knocks back and he copies her. Quinn texts Hector to ask if she was keeping him awake but it turns out that Hector isn’t even home, it’s a very creepy moment that’s ruined by a cheap jump scare.

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These paranormal occurrences become more frequent, and each time, Sean saves her. The demon is seen more as well: a demonic corpse of a burn victim with a breathing mask, making a rattling noise. Things continue to get worse for Quinn so Sean contacts Elise, who hesitantly enters the spiritual realm (which she calls “The Further”). She finds herself afraid and the spirit of the Bride in Black nearly kills her. She is brought back to living world terrified, and refuses to continue. Sean has no choice but to call in someone else, a pair of bloggers, Specs and Tucker. If you remember these two characters from the first two films then you’ll remember that they’re used as “comedy relief“ and here is no different, yet possibly worse. It’s not that I don’t like them as characters or anything because they are quite amusing but it just feels quite out of place considering the seriousness of the situation. Also, their appearance is just a lazy way of explaining how they ended up working with Elise and it’s not very creative.

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After a terrifying experience with Quinn and the demon, Specs and Tucker attempt to withdraw from the case but Elise, now willing to help, appears, more powerful and confident this time. She reveals that the demon isn’t like others she’s encountered. Where most spirits from the Further seek to find bodies to possess so they can live again, this demon, chooses to drag pure living souls into the Further so it can torture them. In the Further, Elise sets free the spirit of a girl the demon had captured years before and overcomes the Bride in Black. The Demon takes the form of Elise’s dead husband, who killed himself a year ago, in an attempt to trick her into killing herself so they can be together. After a tearful reunion, Elise realizes that it is actually the Demon, and easily defeats him, but it grabs hold of a faceless version of Quinn.

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Can Elise return from the Further, stop the demon and save Quinn? Well you’ll have to watch to find out.

So that’s pretty much the story of Insidious: Chapter 3 and honestly, I think it’s quite disappointing and a real departure from the previous two films.

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I like the concept of a prequel and a film that focuses more on the character Elise; she is probably the strongest character in the trilogy and a likeable one too. The issue I had, not only was it attempting to show us some backstory for her which involved a pretty sad story involving her late husband. It was doing so while trying to focus on Quinn and her family and I felt that it made that aspect feel quite unimportant and leaves you not really caring that much about them. In the first Insidious, it focuses almost entirely on the Lambert family and Elise is only one of a few characters on the side. If they really wanted to make a movie that looked at Elise and her backstory why not just focus on that entirely? I wouldn’t have complained.

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I wish that was all that was wrong with this movie but sadly it isn’t. Remember when I said that I feared the absence of James Wan, well I was right to be worried. Insidious: Chapter 3 just looks and feels really different compared to the first 2 and it’s noticeably lacking their stellar cinematography. Not only that but it almost entirely depends on painfully cheap jump scares that are all too predictable. It’s a real shame because I really liked the creepy, breathing mask wearing demon and other than one standout scene it feels wasted.

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Pretty much every moment is ruined with a jump scare. The scene when Quinn is with her friend and she sees the dark figure waving to her is really freaky but then boom, jump scare she’s hit by a car. The scene with the knocking on the wall is excellent until boom, jump scare. The idea that someone had just been knocking to her on the wall was scary enough, why did the director think it required something so cheap.

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Even though there isn’t really that much to Elise’s backstory, I really liked the emotion that it brought forward which is something that the first two were lacking. Quinn is a good character; she’s relatable and at the centre of the surprisingly emotional core of the film.

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It’s well acted but lacks the intense, creepy soundtrack of the original two and goes for something more subtle. Finally, the whole concept of the Further is deeply fascinating and something that has to be explored no pun intended further if there are to be any future sequels.

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Insidious: Chapter 3 is an average/solid third entry into the insidious franchise but a disappointing way to end it if it is to be the last.

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Insidious: Chapter 3
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